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Stackyard News Apr 07

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    Animal Health Research Cuts Fuel Concerns

The concerns of the farming and veterinary industries over Defra spending cuts, initiated by the scaling-down of brucellosis testing, have been exacerbated by the news that Defra has withdrawn funding for a significant amount of animal health and welfare research. The research was due to be carried out in centres across the UK, including the Scottish Agricultural College.

NFUS Vice President
Nigel Miller

nigel miller

NFUS understands that animal health research that has already been commissioned and agreed by Defra, but which has not yet had funding committed to it will now no longer receive this funding.

The Union has expressed its huge concerns that Defra’s budgetary pressures are jeopardising the attempts in Scotland to take forward animal health issues, are being taken unilaterally with no industry consultation and are undermining ongoing discussions regarding cost and responsibility sharing between industry and government.

NFUS Vice President Nigel Miller said:

“I understand Defra has pulled the plug on a huge amount of already commissioned research work. This has been done without any consultation with industry and appears to be another victim of Defra cost-cutting.

“The industry in Scotland has developed a good partnership with the Scottish Executive on animal health and welfare issues. Projects to develop improved castration techniques or to address lameness for example can only build on that. However, the rug is being pulled from underneath us because Defra has a real budgetary problem; one which is no doubt being driven in part by the anticipated fines from Europe as a result of the disastrous implementation of the new Single Farm Payment regime in England.”

NFUS Chief Executive Andy Robertson, who has been involved in discussion with Defra in London on cost-sharing issues, said:

“We have said very clearly to Defra that any sharing of responsibilities or costs for animal health and welfare issues would have to be based on a new and genuine partnership. Frankly, this latest move to cut research, together with the ending of brucellosis testing which came out of the blue, suggests we are a long way from that kind of open and transparent relationship.”

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