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Animal Health: New Reform Bill To Reduce UK Disease Risks

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The Government has published its proposals for a new body to take responsibility for animal health.

If approved, the Animal Health Bill would also:

  • create a new role of Chief Veterinary Officer for the United Kingdom;

  • create a new role of Chief Veterinary Officer for England;

  • widen existing powers in England and Wales to collect and test veterinary samples and to vaccinate animals; and

  • simplify payments for slaughtered animals or property seized or destroyed for disease control purposes in England and Wales.

An independent chair and board would oversee the proposed animal health body.

The Government has also consulted on proposals for the livestock sector, including cost sharing measures to pay for animal disease monitoring and prevention (currently paid for solely by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).  Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said these cost sharing measures will be introduced under a future Finance Bill.

He added:

"Outbreaks of animal disease are bad for everyone - animals, their keepers, and for society.  Protecting animals and people from the effects of potentially devastating diseases like foot and mouth, bluetongue and African Horse Sickness costs the public about £400million a year.

"The proposals we are putting forward are in response to Sir Iain Anderson's report on the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak.  I believe that a partnership through the new animal health body - where the industry can contribute to decisions about animal health - will produce better management of disease and reduce overall risks and costs.  This approach was very successful in tackling bluetongue, where industry and the Government developed a vaccination policy together and shared the cost of the vaccine. 

"This Bill will therefore set up a joint Government-industry body to make animal health decisions in future.  Proposals for cost sharing will come forward in a future Finance Bill."

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