Animal health Bill looks to share the cost

THE QUEEN'S SPEECH

FARMING

A CONTROVERSIAL law which could require farmers to contribute towards the cost of controlling damaging diseases like Foot and Mouth looks set to be introduced before the next General Election.

The Animal Health and Responsibility and Cost-Sharing Bill was not formally mentioned in the Queen's Speech but the Yorkshire Post has learned the Government intends to bring forward a draft Animal Health Bill early next year.

The Bill would create an independent body for animal health in the UK, the cost of which would be raised from farmers, potentially via a compulsory levy on every animal they own.

A Defra spokesman said: "The Government is looking to develop appropriate mechanisms which will focus on behavioural change and will also help share the responsibilities and costs between Government and the farming industry for animal disease control."

Farming organisations have welcomed the prospect of having more of a say over animal health issues, particularly after a series of controversies over outbreaks of Bluetongue disease, Bovine TB and Foot and Mouth disease, all of which saw the Government criticised over their handling of the situation.

Farmers are, however, likely to be bitterly opposed to the prospect of sharing costs.

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