A new body to take responsibility for animal health is among major changes proposed by Environment Secretary Hilary Benn in a new Bill on Animal Health which is being published today.
Other measures in the draft Animal Health Bill, which has been drawn up following extensive public consultation, include:
· Making statutory the role of Chief Veterinary Officer (UK), based at Defra;
· A new Chief Veterinary Officer for England;
· Widening existing powers in England and Wales to collect and test veterinary samples and to vaccinate animals;
· Simplifying payments for slaughtered animals or property seized or destroyed for disease control purposes in England and Wales.
The proposed animal health organisation would be led by an independent chair and board.
The Government has also consulted on proposals for the livestock sector to pay some of the costs of animal disease monitoring and prevention which are currently met by Defra. These cost sharing measures will be introduced under a future Finance Bill. Cost and responsibility sharing for the livestock industry was recommended by Sir Iain Anderson in his report on the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak.
Hilary Benn said:
“Outbreaks of animal disease are bad for everyone – animals, their keepers, and for society. Protecting animals and people from the effects of potentially devastating diseases like foot and mouth, bluetongue and African Horse Sickness costs the public about £400million a year.
“The proposals we are putting forward are in response to Sir Iain Anderson’s report on the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak. I believe that a partnership through the new animal health body – where the industry can contribute to decisions about animal health – will produce better management of disease and reduce overall risks and costs. This approach was very successful in tackling bluetongue, where industry and the Government developed a vaccination policy together and shared the cost of the vaccine.
“This Bill will therefore set up a joint Government-industry body to make animal health decisions in future. Proposals for cost sharing will come forward in a future Finance Bill.”
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