Government to review disease compensation

The government is to review the compensation arrangements for farmers in the event of a disease outbreak.

The issue is one of four proposed priorities listed in the annual report of the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England – the body established by DEFRA to brings together civil servants and industry stakeholders to advise ministers on animal health and welfare policy.

It follows concern that compensation arrangements have not been reviewed since they were set up decades ago. Board chairman Michael Seals said the board’s work should also be viewed within the context of public saving constraints, which could not be escaped.

“The pressure is on for a continued reduction in spending,” Mr Seals told industry representatives at the board’s AGM in London on Friday (19 April). “We are facing unprecedented and continued public savings targets.”

One option is for an industry-led insurance scheme, which would be run by the farming sector, rather than being administered by the government. But the board is also keen that other alternative approaches are explored, too.

DEFRA animal health and welfare director Lee McDonough said: “We are at the start of our thinking on this. Nothing is off the agenda. We need to put our collective heads together – we are not just looking at traditional insurance models.”

The annual report says the board’s wider agenda will continue to include issues across the spectrum of animal health and welfare, including disease readiness, spending priorities and value for money – as well as its ongoing work to “engage constructively across animal keeping sectors”.

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