Reasons why you should have your say on the Animal Health Bill

Rob Newbery, NFU chief adviser leading on the Animal Health Bill gives 10 reasons why you should have your say.

• Proposals for new legislation will affect every livestock producer in the country

• It isn’t just a normal consultation – it’s a consultation on an unsatisfactory draft Bill which if not amended will become law

• It remains unclear whether the new body would be sufficiently independent to give farmers a genuine say on animal health policy and development

• The proposed new body would be a non-departmental public body answerable to DEFRA and needing to secure DEFRA funding. Therefore in our view the body would not be truly independent

• The current text of the draft Bill gives farmers a limited say in the appointment of the new body’s chairman and board members

• The new body could merely sit within DEFRA like a separate directorate, with a chairman and board appointed by the Secretary of State – which isn’t responsibility sharing

• Cost-sharing measures would be introduced through a separate Finance Bill – leaving the door open for the Treasury to impose an “animal tax” on farmers

• The proposed new body will have no say on animal welfare – an issue which remains within DEFRA’s remit

• Vastly different types of farming systems and animal diseases make it impossible to devise guidelines enabling compensation to be withheld from farmers who irresponsibly spread disease – however sensible the idea may seem

• There is still time to make significant changes to this draft bill during the parliamentary process so the new body is made “fit for purpose”.

• For more on the Animal Health Bill

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