Cross-UK attempts to dump yet more cost on farmers, this time through the full, flat rate, cost recovery of carcase testing for hormone and antibiotic residues, must be resisted.
So says the National Beef Association which is annoyed at efforts by the Veterinary Medicine Directorate to pass more cost to farmers without making any effort to curb its own procedural expense – 80 per cent of which is laboratory based following a 70 per cent increase in laboratory costs since residue testing was introduced in the late 1980’s.
“Government is asking for a cost increase of 54% per head some time in 2010 and it expects industry to accept this even though no effort has been made to review the testing protocol or make abattoir-laboratory testing more efficient,” explained NBA director, Kim Haywood.
“It is wrong, and all to easy, for government to turn to industry and demand additional revenue when no prior effort has been made to overhaul its own procedures – especially when information obtained in Northern Ireland suggests that the actual costs faced by the VMD are considerably lower than those it would like to get back.”
“The NBA in Northern Ireland, and elsewhere in the UK, would feel a great deal more comfortable about livestock farmers paying this additional money if the VMD had already investigated cheaper service providers and could show that residue testing provided value for money.”
“The testing protocol itself, which was introduced when hormone growth promoters were made illegal and there was alarm at the introduction of equally illegal substitutes, should also be examined so it is more risk based and the expense is seen as more proportionate.”
“Around 1800 random samples were taken from cattle carcases in Northern Ireland last year but only one animal was found to have been treated with clenbuterol and there were no problems with antibiotics. Similar results apply to Great Britain”.
“This being the case the NBA sees no reason why the testing requirement cannot be reduced to fall in with the existing budget and sees no reason for the VMD, and others, to take the easy way out and maintain current activity simply by asking farmers to stump up more money.”
“The NBA will make its feelings clear to the Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland before the consultation period closes next week. It has already responded in similar fashion to the British consultation which closed on August 25th,” Ms Haywood added.
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