NFU to challenge pre-move tests in court

The NFU has launched a legal challenge against DEFRA’s plans for pre-movement testing of cattle, three weeks after the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association opened its own proceedings.

On Monday (6 Feb) the NFU notified DEFRA of its intention to apply for a Judicial Review over the government’s handling of the Bovine TB Order.

NFU president Tim Bennett said he hoped to delay the introduction of pre-movement testing, to ensure that when it was introduced it would be fully resourced and part of a more co-ordinated approach to tackling the disease.

“We are pursuing the overturning of pre-movement testing, not because we oppose it as a measure, but because it cannot be properly delivered without full consultation,” said Mr Bennett.

The legal challenge has been made on the grounds that DEFRA imposed the new regulations without public consultation, despite committing to do so.

Meanwhile, the LAA continues to prepare for Judicial Review, but is also concentrating on getting clear information from DEFRA on how the new rules will work in practice.

“We are still totally in the dark which is completely unacceptable,” said vice chairman Ben Messer-Bennetts.

“The new rules come into force on Feb 20, time is running out, and few farmers understand them let alone their impact.”

The LAA’s solicitor, Burges Salmon, wrote to DEFRA secretary Margaret Beckett earlier this week, demanding clarification on how the TB Order would be implemented.

It claimed that there was nothing to prevent exempt markets selling untested cattle at the same time as cattle which had been tested, and applied for approval of the LAA’s members as exempt markets.