Executive must lead on animal health issues

NFU Scotland has stressed the need for the Scottish Executive to lead on Scottish animal health issues and not defer to DEFRA on what is a devolved matter.

This follows the recent publication of the Executive's response to the Foot and Mouth Disease Inquiries.

The Executive's response focuses on reducing the risk of disease being brought into the country, minimising the spread of disease should it come in and effective contingency planning.

NFUS President Jim Walker said: "The Scottish Executive has stressed in its response that animal health is fully devolved to Scottish Ministers.

"Yet on a number of crucial animal health issues, such as the assessment of the impact of the 20-day livestock standstill and future compensation for livestock compulsorily slaughtered, they seem satisfied to let DEFRA take the lead.

"Livestock movement controls in Scotland are governed by Scottish legislation, and rightly they reflect Scottish conditions. For well over a year now, NFUS has been calling for a Scottish regulatory impact assessment of these controls, considering both the economic and veterinary consequences of the regulations.

"SEERAD has given in to DEFRA for this to be carried out on a GB basis, despite it being Scottish legislation under Scottish control.

"Similarly, on future arrangements for compensation for livestock compulsorily slaughtered and other costs of disease control, it is simply not good enough for the Executive to be 'represented on a DEFRA led working group'. DEFRA and the Treasury have their

own agenda for animal disease insurance; a proposal that has even been dismissed by those in the insurance industry, partly due to Britain's woeful import controls.

"The Executive must take its own lead for animal health policy in Scotland, just as it took a lead last year and eradicated Foot and Mouth Disease in Scotland without interference from DEFRA."