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UK: Plans for independent animal health body

Decisions about how to handle animal diseases would move to an independent body under proposals announced for consultation by Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, Defra has reported.

The proposals would see a new independent board established to make decisions about animal health policy and delivery, made up of members with knowledge, experience and skills in the livestock industry, animal health science and welfare and relevant public health, consumer and wildlife issues, said Benn.

In a disease outbreak, key decisions such as movement controls will be made by the Chair and Chief Executive of the new organisation, on the advice of the Chief Veterinary Officer.

Disease control
Benn: “Livestock owners are worst affected by disease outbreaks, and they also benefit from disease control, where their livestock might otherwise become infected. It's right that they should be more involved in making decisions about how we prevent and handle those diseases, and contribute to the costs of collective action to tackle disease threats. This new way of tackling animal disease…will mean that everyone's investment in disease control is more effectively and efficiently used. We should see a reduction in the total levels and costs of these diseases.”

The plans will help to reduce the risks and costs of animal disease, improve confidence in animal health policies, and ensure the livestock keepers who benefit from animal disease control measures share the costs of those measures with taxpayers.

The new body will be responsible for dealing with exotic disease outbreaks, policy on endemic diseases, advising on the payment rates for animals culled as part of disease control, and controlling animal diseases that pose a threat to public health.           

Publicly funded
The new body would be largely publicly funded, with a levy on livestock keepers contributing to the costs of surveillance and preparedness for exotic disease outbreaks. Views are also being sought on compulsory insurance for livestock keepers to contribute to the cost of dealing with exotic disease outbreaks.

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• Defra
 

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