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Cost sharing debate must redefine Defra's relationship with farmers, says NFU

by 5m Editor
14 December 2006, at 4:53pm

UK - The debate over responsibility and cost sharing for animal health and welfare must bring about a cultural change in the relationship between Defra and farmers, the NFU said today.

Following the launch of a Defra consultation on the principles of responsibility and cost sharing, NFU President Peter Kendall said: “This consultation exercise must bring about a real and genuine discussion about how farmers and Defra can work towards a partnership approach to animal health and welfare policy. “Farmers are aware of the importance of keeping their animals healthy and free from disease so it is clearly in our interest to have a much greater say in how animal health and welfare policy is developed and implemented.”

While the NFU acknowledges there are pressures on Defra’s budgets, it is adamant that this debate must not be focused just on costs. Mr Kendall said: “While costs are clearly an issue for Defra, they are also an issue for farmers. Livestock keepers already pay a heavy cost and regulatory burden for animal health and welfare policies and the industry simply cannot afford to have further costs imposed on it.

“Therefore, the key objective for this discussion must be to try and develop a partnership approach to animal health and welfare policy which reduces the regulatory and cost burden for both livestock keepers and the Government”. The NFU does not underestimate the challenge that both Defra and the industry faces in trying to address this issue.

Mr Kendall said: “Both sides have to go into this debate with a ‘can do’ attitude. If we get this right we can set a new agenda for the relationship between government and industry, a relationship which meets the aspirations of both parties where we can develop cost effective, risk based, proportionate responses to the challenges that we all face over animal health and welfare.

“This really is a unique opportunity to develop a genuine industry/government partnership and the NFU will do all that it can to make sure that it plays a full part in the discussions because we believe that it is in our members interests to get this right.

“One of the real tests that will be faced by any partnership will be dealing effectively with the continuing spread of bovine TB. Many farmers will judge Defra’s commitment to a partnership on whether it’s prepared to work with us on this matter.

“We must have more say over our destiny, and more control over the policies that affect us. We are not prepared to just sit back and allow Government to impose its costs on the industry.”

ThePoultrySite News Desk

5m Editor