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UK: Reforms proposed to reduce risk of disease in animals

Responsibility for animal health policy could transfer from Defra to a new body under proposals recently published in a draft Animal Health Bill.

The Department for Environment Food and rural Affairs (Defra) reports that the draft Bill lays out the scope and responsibilities of the new body and how it will be constituted and operate. It follows extensive public consultation.

Other measures in the draft Bill include:
- Making statutory the role of the Chief Veterinary Officer (UK), based at Defra
- A new Chief Veterinary Officer for England
- Widening existing powers in England and Wales to collect and test veterinary samples and to vaccinate animals
- Simplifying payments for slaughtered animals or property seized or destroyed for disease control purposes in England and Wales.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn: “Outbreaks of animal diseases are bad for everyone – animals, their keepers, and taxpayers. Protecting animals and people from the effects of potentially devastating diseases like foot and mouth, bluetongue and African Horse Sickness costs the public about £400 mln a year. Those running the new animal health organisation would include people with experience of the livestock industry and specialists in animal and public health, so that those making a living from animals and who are directly affected by diseases can contribute to policies and decisions about animal health.”

The proposed organisation would be led by an independent chair and board.

Building greater responsibility sharing will help to bring about essential behaviour change in the livestock sector in relation to risk – but only if suitable financial contributions and incentives are also introduced, says Defra. The necessary cost-sharing measures will therefore be introduced under a future Finance Bill.

Source: Defra

Natalie Berkhout

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