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Farron expresses dismay at Government plans to pass disease costs onto farmers

January 26, 2010 12:00 AM

Government plans to charge livestock farmers for dealing with animal disease will heap more financial pressure on farmers according to Liberal Democrat Defra Spokesperson Tim Farron, who has expressed his dismay at the proposals set out by the Government yesterday in their draft Animal Health Bill.

At the moment it costs the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) £44 million every year to prevent animal disease and prepare for outbreaks. However, a new consultation suggests farmers pay half through a new tax on livestock. The £22m would be raised by putting a levy on different animals, from £4.80 for a dairy cow to 4p for a chicken.

Mr Farron has condemned the Government's decision to "pass the buck" on to farmers as reckless and has warned that further attempts to increase industry contributions for disease prevention will only cause further damage to the industry.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"The Government wouldn't ask communities affected by swine flu to pay to cover the cost, so it's completely unfair that farmers are being forced to pick up the tab.

"The Government's decision to pass the buck is a disgrace. It's grossly unfair for ministers to make livestock farmers pay, given the 2007 Foot and Mouth outbreak came from Government-licensed premises.

"Farmers understand the need to protect public health. But in the current economic climate there can be no justification for shifting the cost to livestock farmers."