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Why is Defra proposing a voluntary vaccination campaign

against Bluetongue? What about European co-funding?

Defra has ordered 22.5 million doses of Bluetongue vaccine and we expect that

vaccine will begin to be available from May. In keeping with the principles set out in the

Bluetongue Control Strategy, which was developed in partnership with the farming

industry, livestock keepers will be able to purchase vaccine from the bank.

We believe that mass vaccination can be best achieved through a voluntary

approach. Farming representatives have said that the take-up of vaccination is likely to

be high in a voluntary scheme, especially with a campaign promoting the benefits of

vaccination. These benefits include allowing farmers to protect their animals from the

disease and enabling movements of vaccinated animals out of restricted zones.

A voluntary vaccination programme will:

allow vaccination to be rolled out as quickly as possible, as vaccine is delivered;

reduce the cost of vaccination to a minimum by using existing delivery chains and

reducing regulatory burdens; and

give farmers the freedom to take business decisions based on knowledge of the

potential costs of the disease and significant benefits that vaccination offers.

The likely overall costs involved in such a programme in England could total around

19 million, an average of around 330 per vaccinating farm. As individual farmers will

be responsible for the costs of vaccination, it is important to keep costs as low as

possible to encourage maximum participation.

On the other hand, a compulsory programme would involve increased regulatory

burdens and a level of enforcement to check compliance. Based on some assumptions

on the costs involved with this, coupled with other administration costs, makes it over

50% more expensive overall than voluntary vaccination (at around 30 million) and

about 40% more costly per vaccinating farm (at around 470).

The Commission has announced that EU co-funding will be available for some costs

associated with emergency vaccination programmes. This can include up to 100% of

the cost of the vaccine but only 50% of the costs of delivery, up to a certain ceiling.

However, any funding would only be available for 2008, is likely to require high

levels of official supervision (increasing costs and reducing speed of delivery) and

could only be claimed some time after the programme, subject to satisfactory audits.

However, even taking into account the effect of any possible co-funding, the costs of a

compulsory programme still significantly outweigh the costs of a voluntary one.

This is mainly due to the additional enforcement and administration costs involved in a

compulsory scheme. Also, because of the long-standing abatement arrangements with

the EU, which greatly benefit the UK as a whole, the real value of any co-funding is

only around one-third of anything awarded.1

We will seek any co-funding available, provided it is not tied to conditions that are

inconsistent with the aims for controlling disease or would increase the overall costs of

vaccination to farmers. If a voluntary scheme is tied to Commission requirements which

will increase overall costs or slow down the speed of vaccine delivery, then it may be

better to forego such funding in favour of a simple, voluntary vaccination

programme which is able to deliver the benefits listed above.

1 The abatement refunds to the UK approximately two-thirds the difference between its contribution to the EC Budget and the money it

receives from the EC Budget. Any increase in Budget receipts reduces the deficit that the abatement is designed to correct for and,

consequently, the value of the abatement. This means that the real value to the UK of any co-funding is only around one-third of

anything awarded.