Animal diseases: If farmers pay they should have their say

UK - Talks between NFU President Peter Kendall and EU Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel have been described as ‘friendly and constructive’ when the pair met today in Brussels.
calendar icon 14 July 2006
clock icon 3 minute read

Farmers will only be prepared to share costs and responsibilities for the prevention and control of so-called exotic animal diseases on the basis of a genuine partnership with Government, the NFU said today.

In a response to a report on the subject, NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said if farmers were expected to pick up some of the cost of the consequences of disease outbreaks, they should also have a real say in determining the safeguards that are in place to prevent exotic diseases reaching the UK in the first place.

“This could be an opportunity to build a meaningful, long-term relationship with Government, but that can only be on the basis of a genuine partnership covering all areas of decision-making“ said Mr. Raymond

“He who pays the piper should call the tune.

“We are not in the business of effectively writing the Government a blank cheque that it can use to pay for the consequences of inadequate disease safeguards. Nor are we in any way encouraged by their refusal, so far, to deal effectively with bovine TB. A partnership approach to this disease has been conspicuous only by its absence.“

Nonetheless Mr. Raymond said the NFU was committed to playing its full part in the development of a genuine and effective industry/government partnership.

He said: “If this approach is to work it must be genuine and transparent, with both partners committed to sharing the risks and responsibilities, and agreeing on policy and strategy to control exotic animal disease which presents an ever increasing threat to our livestock.

“It will be a change for Government in the way it deals with farmers, who will move from being stakeholders who need to be consulted before ministers can make a decision, to becoming partners with whom agreement must be reached before decisions can be made.

“This is a real opportunity to establish a new working relationship with Government, leading to better policies on preventing and controlling animal disease. More importantly it could lead to new working arrangements between Government and the farmers and growers of this country, which could be replicated in other policy areas. I believe we are more than ready for the challenge.“

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