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Minister O'Neill launches second consultation on TB and Brucellosis compensation

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced the launch of a further consultation on proposed changes to the current compensation arrangements for bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis.
Thursday, 6 October 2011

This second consultation will run from 5 October to 2 December 2011 and follows a previous consultation exercise that took place from 23 February to 21 April 2011.

The revised proposals were outlined by DARD officials at a recent meeting with the Assembly’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.

Speaking after the meeting, the Minister said: “Following consideration of the responses to the first consultation exercise and the comments of the ARD Committee, my Department has developed revised proposals for TB and brucellosis compensation based on the principle of applying a cap on compensation.

“We are also proposing to reduce the rate of compensation for brucellosis in-contact animals to 75%.”

Minister O’Neill pointed out that the revised proposals do not include the introduction of table-based valuation.

The Minister went on to say: “Three options are being consulted on which involve different methodologies on how a cap could be applied and at what level it could be set. Under all options, TB and brucellosis affected animals would continue to be individually valued by DARD Valuation Officers.

“Additionally, the maximum amount of compensation payable for animals removed for TB would be set at a maximum of 100% of the relevant cap and the maximum amount of compensation payable for brucellosis animals would be set at 75% of the relevant cap.”

Explaining the reasons why the Department is bringing forward the revised proposals, the Minister said: “We believe this change will encourage greater awareness on the part of farmers of the need to adopt sound biosecurity practices and will help to drive towards the early eradication of brucellosis. Eradicating this costly disease will benefit all herdkeepers. It will lead to the subsequent progressive relaxation of control measures such as annual testing and pre-movement testing, which costs herdkeepers some £7million per year.

“We have also a responsibility to strike a proper and appropriate balance between ensuring reasonable compensation for farmers affected by a decision to slaughter their animals on the one hand, and protecting the interests of the taxpayers on the other. This point has been raised by both our own Public Accounts Committee and by the EU.”

Notes to editors:

  1. Our current TB and brucellosis legislation requires that disease compensation is based on market value as though the animal was healthy. Compensation is currently paid at a rate of 100% of market value for all animals removed for TB and also for brucellosis in-contacts. Compensation for brucellosis reactors is paid at a rate of 75% of market value or 75% of a cap based on a calculated market average, whichever is lesser.
  2. There has been external criticism of these existing compensation arrangements from the EU Brucellosis Task Force and from the NI Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee. Both have highlighted that 100% compensation does not provide an incentive to the generality of farmers here to seek to prevent disease and may encourage fraud on the part of some.
  3. The purpose in proposing changes to our TB and brucellosis compensation system is to encourage farmers to take appropriate biosecurity measures to help prevent and reduce the risk of infection in their herd. It is also intended to achieve a fair balance between ensuring reasonable compensation on the one hand and protecting the interests of the taxpayer on the other.
  4. DARD has therefore reviewed its compensation arrangements for TB and brucellosis, conducting an earlier consultation exercise from 23 February to 21 April 2011.
  5. The revised proposals build on the responses received to the earlier consultation. This second consultation will run from 5 October 2011 to 2 December 2011.
  6. Copies of the consultation documentation can be obtained by visiting the consultations section of the Department’s website.
  7. All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email pressoffice.group@dardni.gov.uk. Outside of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.