NFU concerned over animal health panel

NFU president Peter Kendall has criticised DEFRA’s decision to appoint a cost and responsibility sharing English Partnership Board panel.

“These are not advisers, but a panel that has been appointed to make animal health decisions that may have a major economic impact on farmers,” said Mr Kendall. “Livestock producers have had no say in who should be appointed to that panel.”

NFU director of regions, Kevin Pearce, was also concerned about the farming representation on the panel. “Cattle health is the most significant of all species nationally, but there is likely to be only one cattle representative on the board and it will be difficult for their voice to be heard among representatives from other livestock and non-livestock animal sectors.”

But unions welcomed the fact that DEFRA is set to take a more practical approach to cost and responsibility sharing.

“DEFRA has come to the conclusion that cost and responsibility sharing is a more complex issue than it first thought and is more willing to work with farmers to make any scheme work,” said Mr Pearce.

And he added that the bringing together of DEFRA’s Animal Health agency and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency will both save money and lead to a more coordinated approach to disease prevention.