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    Government offer on joint disease control worth considering
24/01/07

A government offer on joint industry/administration disease cost and control which takes the politics out of disease management is not a proposition that farmers can easily turn down.

NBA chairman, Duff Burrell
© www.jennifermackenzie.co.uk

NBA chairman, Duff Burrell

This is the view of the National Beef Association – especially if the government proposal does not automatically include taking a levy off farmers to fund the elimination of an exotic epidemic like FMD.

“Such a suggestion may not necessarily be a step too far, or a move that is too hasty, as long as a cross-UK system can be constructed and government is prepared to work seriously towards the adoption of a centralized disease control body, perhaps modeled on something like the Food Standards Agency, which can operate outside parliament and be truly independent,” said NBA chairman, Duff Burrell.

“That type of initiative could be adopted at UK level through a Board consisting of an independent chairman, one representative from of the UK’s four governments and a farmer representative from each of the four home countries too.”

“If a truly independent cross-UK committee could be assembled, and politics really were taken out of disease management, it would mean, for example, that a radically different approach could be taken to TB control which is currently hugely compromised by political considerations over the culling of badgers.”

The broad view of the NBA at present is that the idea of developing a radically new system for national disease control must be examined carefully and that the Association, and other organizations, should take a positive view of these discussions – especially if it means the current top down system of decision making is abandoned.

“We think all livestock farmer representatives should take part in cost sharing and control negotiations with government and only back out if developments take a direction they find impossible to sign up to,” said Mr Burrell.

“It is clear that the adoption of such an initiative will call for a massive shift in outlook from both government and industry. Ministers and senior civil servants will be required to abandon their well embedded, top down, parent-pupil, approach.”

“And industry will have to immediately become more knowledgeable and mature as well discover the courage to make tough decisions instead of automatically lining up to criticise conclusions that have already been reached.”

“It remains to be seen whether government is willing to give up its authority on disease control to an independent board but the NBA is sure that the proposition must be properly examined before industry decides its final position.”

link Guard Against Lice and Tick Threat at Lambing Time
link Farmers to question DEFRA minister over bovine TB fears
link Biosecurity on the Agenda for Agricultural Shows

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