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    Disease control partnerships require two-way communication
19/07/06

Farmers and government must map out exactly what is meant by disease control and risk reduction partnerships before they commit themselves further to the co-management route, the National Beef Association warned today.

cattle

In its response to Defra's presentation, last week, of plans to launch a levy based, industry-government, disease cost sharing and control initiative the Association says that unless each fully understands what is required of the other there is too much risk of partnership breakdown and the unfortunate consequences that would result.

"It makes sense to establish a system in which both farmers and government set out to lighten their joint disease cost load by working together to resist entry from other countries and curb the spread of infection at farm level," explained NBA chairman, Duff Burrell.

"But we are not yet impressed with the results of Defra's efforts to establish meaningful disease control partnerships through the Animal Health and Welfare Scheme (AHWS) and are worried that if the causes of this failure are not removed then the adoption of more critical collaborative schemes will be compromised too."

According to the NBA the most important adjustment will have to be made by senior officials and Ministers.

"Government is currently managed on a top-down basis in which lofty instructions are passed down and then adopted," said Mr Burrell.

"When the AHWS was launched in 2002 much play was made of it being a partnership and it was suggested there would be bottom-up traffic in ideas too and some of these would be adopted."

"The NBA has worked hard with government on a number of disease issues including farm health planning and a Johnes control initiative which are aimed at curbing cost and limiting spread."

"However it is still struggling to identify an ideas exchange that has actually cut disease losses on farms and given encouragement to the industry to take up jointly-funded activity at an alliance level. Furthermore some collaborative, industry-official, decisions have been rejected after being scruitinised later by more distant government personnel."

"On top of this Defra has notably failed to introduce effective TB controls and as long as this disease continues to blight the cattle health landscape it will be difficult for any government seeking to establish alliances with which to attack other scourges to secure the unconditional support of cattle farmers."

"In view of this we are quite sure that the new, UK-wide, disease control and cost sharing initiative cannot succeed unless there are serious adjustments at top government level to the partnership approach and those who are used to exclusively one-way traffic in ideas accept that some suggestions passed up from farmers will have to be adopted if joint approaches are to work." Mr Burrell added.

link Double Standards for Home Produced and Imported Beef
link Maternal EBVs to Aid Better Replacement Breeding
link Cut The Summer Mastitis Risk

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