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Royal Association Enraged by Defra Proposals

03 April 2009

UK - The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers has reacted angrily to Government’s Responsibility and Cost Sharing consultation and has called for an all industry response to show a united front.

It claims that the proposed annual levy of £4.80 per dairy cow to be paid from 2012, plus insurance costs, are disgraceful and yet another ‘kick in the teeth’ for dairy producers who continue to exit the sector at a rate of 13 per week, leaving Britain to import more than one million litres of fresh milk daily.

“To receive this piece of news this week is a real kick in the teeth, in particular since the proposed levy for dairy cows is proportionally far greater than for any other animal. It demonstrates Defra’s complete disregard for dairy farmers who are currently wrestling with the cost implications of NVZs, TB overhangs the sector like the sword of Damocles and farmgate milk price continues to fall,” says RABDF chairman, Lyndon Edwards.

“The document clearly indicates that Defra is pushing the vast majority of responsibility on to farmers and at the same time, contrary to farmers’ wishes, live cattle imports are still permitted from Bluetongue infected countries and farmers have to pay the full cost of vaccination; they pay for TB pre-movement testing while government continues to allow the disease to run wild, and it remains firm in our minds that the FMD virus escaped from government premises.

“Furthermore, if Defra believes the disease risk to be greater in dairy cattle, as reflected in the higher levy, then the proposed insurance premiums will also be higher thereby posing a double whammy for dairy farmers.”

He adds: “We are calling for an all industry response to show a united front; it’s a common sense approach and RABDF is willing to take part. We also believe the farming industry needs a totally independent and transparent group to take forward these proposals and allow them to develop over a period of time, in order to enable farmers to have their say on how to take on responsibility, responsibly. Other major livestock producing countries, for example, Australia took seven years in putting together policies which are now demonstrating government and farmers can work together closely for the benefit of all parties. Defra is currently seeking a quick fix solution, fast.”

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