Farmers Union of Wales blasts disease levy idea

The Farmers Union of Wales has blasted the idea that farmers should be required to pay a disease levy.

The idea was repeated in a report published on (Tuesday, 1 November) by the Public Accounts Committee.

The FUW said farmers should not have to pay a levy as the government was to blame for the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic.

“The simple fact is that it occurred because of inaction and lack of investment in stopping the importation of diseased meat,” said Gareth Vaughan, the union’s president.

“The truth is that foot-and-mouth also spread so rapidly in 2001 because the government failed to act quickly enough to halt animal movements across the country.

“It would be grossly unfair for a levy to be imposed on farmers to make up for the government’s own shortcomings.”

He added that the Association of British Insurers was concerned about underwriting such an unpredictable hazard and had made it clear that they would be unable to provide wide-ranging cover.

Even if it could, farmers could not afford the likely level of premiums.

The union also rejected the suggestion that a levy would be an incentive for farmers, who were already subject to strict livestock movement restrictions and on farm inspections by various government departments, to enhance biosecurity.