Footprint Blog

DEFRA Madness

Posted in Comment,Government,News by foodservicefootprint on June 30, 2009


Yesterday saw the end of the government’s consultation on a new independent body for animal health. It is being widely argued that this new quango is an attempt to shift cost, responsibility and most importantly accountability away from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the event of a major outbreak of animal disease. Given the government’s previous negligence (the outbreak of foot and mouth on a farm in Surrey due to the leak from the laboratory being a prime example) and the imports of animals from high risk areas, we fear that further epidemics are highly likely.

Charlie Brooks, in the Daily Telegraph argues ‘It [the government] wants to wipe its hands of the problem now, by hiving off 240 staff from DEFRA and transferring their associated costs to farmers and animal owners’.

Brooks is absolutely right as it does involve new taxes: £10.50 per horse, £4.80 per dairy cow, £1.20 for beef animals, £0.82 a sheep. In addition compulsory insurance will have to be purchased by livestock owners, presumably at high premiums given the inevitability of further outbreaks.

Why create another quango at the expense of an industry that is barely taken into consideration? Surely the long term implication of this is a rise in the cost of meat, making things even more difficult for foodservice?

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