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.
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
"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
"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
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