UK Bill to Revise Animal Health Oversight

Legislators in the United Kingdom have proposed major changes in animal health, including a new governmental body. The bill was introduced by Environment Secretary Hilary Benn.

Other measures in the draft Animal Health Bill, which was drawn up following extensive public consultation, include:

  • Making statutory the role of Chief Veterinary Officer (UK), based at the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA);
  • A new Chief Veterinary Officer for England;
  • Widening existing powers in England and Wales to collect and test veterinary samples and to vaccinate animals;
  • Simplifying payments for slaughtered animals or property seized or destroyed for disease control purposes in England and Wales.

The proposed animal health organization would be led by an independent chair and board.

The Government has also consulted on proposals for the livestock sector to pay some of the costs of animal disease monitoring and prevention which are currently met by DEFRA. These cost sharing measures will be introduced under a future Finance Bill. Cost and responsibility sharing for the livestock industry was recommended by Sir Iain Anderson in his report on the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak.

"Outbreaks of animal disease are bad for everyone--animals, their keepers, and for society," said Benn. "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 ($643 million USD) a year.

"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," Benn said.

See the draft animal health bill.

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