Draft Animal Health Bill: What’s in it and what’s not

The government plans to share the cost of combating animal disease with livestock producers across the country by introducing the Animal Health Bill. Farmers Weekly looks at the measures that Bill contains.

What’s In It

Animal Health Organisation
An independent body taking responsibility from DEFRA for assessing animal disease risks and developing plans to tackle outbreaks, it will:
• Undertake research
• Develop policy
• Propose secondary legislation
• Provide advice and training
• Distribute information
• Provide financial assistance

Compensation cuts

• Farmers who fail to take adequate disease prevention measures, contribute to the spread of the disease or breach regulations relating to the disease will have compensation payments cut. For example by not maintaining good levels of biosecurity or ignoring animal movement restrictions.

Vaccination legislation

Existing legislation will be amended to broaden the circumstances under which the AHO or Welsh ministers could order the vaccination of animals.

Greater powers will be given to take samples from animals or premises for disease surveillance purposes and to conduct additional tests on samples for any disease, with no need for further consent from the keeper.

What’s not

Compulsory insurance

• DEFRA has shelved plans to make livestock keepers take out insurance to help foot the bill for future disease outbreaks.

The option was included in proposals put to the industry in April 2009 and predicted to cost farming £32.5m a year in premiums. But industry consultation proved the plan was unworkable.

Animal Health Levy

• Also mooted in the cost-sharing proposals last spring was an annual levy based on each farm’s livestock numbers. The aim was to raise £22m a year to establish a fund to pay for future disease outbreaks.

Although the levy is not included in the draft Bill it is still a very real prospect. The levy now forms part of the Future Finances Bill.