Foot-and-mouth disease costs come under scrutiny

The Public Accounts Committee has said it is concerned that in the event of another foot-and-mouth outbreak valuations for pedigree and high value stock continue to rely on the judgement of a valuer.

In a report published on Tuesday, Nov 1, the committee said that DEFRA needed to take action on controlling the costs of a future outbreak.

“For non-standards and pedigree animals, however, the department still relies on professional valuations, even though experience from 2001 suggest some valuations were two to three times the underlying worth of the animal,” it said.

“The department should seek to substantiate such valuations by reference to other relevant data, for example original purchase price or values for similar animals in different parts of the country.

“It should challenge, and expect the farmers or valuer to justify, any unusual movements.”

The committee said that it would also like to see DEFRA implementing a levy scheme so part or all of the cost of future outbreaks could be passed from the taxpayer to farmers.

It suggested that a levy scheme could also provide incentives to improve farm biosecurity, for example by linking the amount of levy contribution to standards of biosecurity on a farm.

The report said DEFRA also needed to resolve the question of whether the cost of disinfection and cleaning should be picked up by the taxpayer, by industry or be shared.