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Independent review of livestock movement rules announced
07/02/06

Ben Bradshaw, Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has announced an independent review of livestock movement rules.

“The rules applicable to the identification and movement of cattle and sheep have existed in their present form since 2000 and 2003 respectively. They exist to help meet the Department’s top threat, an outbreak of livestock disease. There is evidence that farmers find them difficult to understand not least because different rules apply to cattle than to sheep. They may therefore be difficult to operate.

We need to know whether our policies are having their desired impact. I have therefore commissioned an independent review of our policies in this area, to examine what the impact of our policies has had on farmer behaviour, and whether this has increased the risk of disease. The review will examine whether we could regulate in this area better than we do now, whilst carrying out our obligations under EU law.

I have asked Bill Madders, a dairy farmer from Staffordshire, who has extensive experience of analysing government policies that affect the livestock industry, to carry out the review, and to report back by the end of June.”

Notes

1. Bill Madders farms dairy cattle in a family partnership in Staffordshire. He has been chairman of the NFU Animal Health and Milk Committees, and chairman of the National Dairy Farm Assured Scheme.

He is a member of the governing body of the Institute for Animal Health, a board member of MDC Evaluations Ltd, a trustee of Harper Adams University College and chairman of the Rural Stress Information Network.

He recently chaired the DEFRA TB Pre-movement Testing Group, and is a member of the Defra Research Priorities Group.

2. DRAFT TERMS OF REFERENCE

To review and make recommendations on the degree to which current rules in England and Wales on the movement of cattle, sheep and deer deliver a sufficiently reduced risk of disease, taking account of the need to support the sustainability of the livestock industry. In particular the review should address the risks being managed by the controls, the benefits of the controls, the administrative burden created by them, and the way in which they have influenced farmer behaviour, including the levels of compliance with them, and make recommendations.

Out of scope of the review are consideration of the length of movement standstills applicable to any species. This is because the six day standstill periods were introduced in 2003 following extensive work to identify the costs and benefits of having such an approach. The Report recommended that a standstill period of 20 days provided the best disease protection, but that a six day standstill period provided worthwhile protection against the spread of disease. These results are still valid.

The review will commence this month and report by the end of June 2006.

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DEFRA
Department for Environment
Food and Rural Affairs