Responsibility sharing / cost sharing - the future of animal health in Europe?
There are active consultations going on in the UK on responsibility
sharing, between the livestock industry and government - and the inevitable cost
sharing. It is part of an EU Animal Health Strategy initiative but what is
happening in other European countries?
There are active consultations going on in the UK on responsibility sharing,
between the livestock industry and government - and the inevitable cost sharing.
It is part of an EU Animal Health Strategy initiative but what is happening in
other European countries?
In the UK, we feel it is driven by the wish for
government to not to have to pay for outbreaks of notifiable disease in the
future, such as Foot-and-Mouth
disease (FMD), Classical
Swine Fever (CSF) and the almost annual outbreaks of avian influenza. The
consultation has slightly changed now from just notifiable diseases, to
so-called 'exotic diseases' (blue tongue in sheep and cattle would be an
example) and even endemic diseases or diseases that are always present in a
Goal posts shifting?
Are the goal posts just shifting
or is this an opportunity to genuinely look at how diseases are to be controlled
in the UK and Europe, or is it just a strategy to shift the expense of disease
control and compensation onto industry rather than cash-strapped governments and
the taxpayer in general?
The outbreak of FMD in the UK in 2001 was very
expensive and spilled over into neighbouring countries like Ireland, Holland and
France due to animal movement. Our swine fever outbreak was localised and in the
main, so was the one in Holland.
Wild pig populations
keep on recurring in the EU, where wild pig populations act as a reservoir.
However, we are seeing the shift in the patterns of disease e.g. blue tongue
moving northward and avian influenza coming in each year as birds migrate
particularly from more heavily infected areas in the East. We are fortunate that
most of these outbreaks have been contained.
From these examples we can
see that many are not just national problems. The UK as an island should be more
resistant to invasion of various diseases but seems to have its fair share.
Hopefully, the 2007 FMD outbreak was an unfortunate one-off occurrence
and lessons have been learnt, but the disruption it caused to a struggling UK
pig industry has been put at Â£17.1 million (€21.5 million) from restrictions in
movement and lost sales, particularly of breeding stock, without even infecting
It is the responsibility of governments to
control notifiable diseases. We have seen when industry works with government to
advise them on control matters etc, a very positive outcome can be achieved.
With regard to notifiable diseases, a programme of EU control and cooperation
could be achieved.
How you would define and include exotic diseases is
more questionable or how it could be extended to endemic diseases is as yet
unclear. The whole concept of cost sharing also brings in its own difficulties.
There are many industries, poultry, pigs and beef, which could be quite
straightforward, i.e. a levy on slaughtered animals but what about breeding
animals or weaner/store pig producers.
Dairy and fish pose different
problems. Also, do industries contribute to diseases in other species, or can
they ring fence it for their own? What about insurance?
What are other
EU countries doing and where do they feel the best options
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