Animals: Diseases

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 20th February 2019.

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Photo of Lord Rogan Lord Rogan Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what preparations they have made to deal with any outbreaks of exotic diseases in animals in the UK after Brexit, including improving access to vets and additional financial support for the agricultural sector; and whether they will publish their strategy for such preparations.

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government has comprehensive arrangements for dealing effectively with outbreaks of animal disease. In relation to exotic notifiable diseases, these arrangements are consistent with those set out by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Defra’s plans are set out in the Contingency Plan for Exotic Notifiable Diseases of Animals in England which was laid before Parliament in November 2018 and is available via GOV.UK. After the UK leaves the EU the Government will retain the necessary powers required to tackle animal disease.

Defra engages closely with farmers and animal keepers to help prevent exotic disease outbreaks and if they do arise we work closely with them and their industry bodies to tackle the outbreaks quickly and effectively. Defra’s longstanding practice is that: farmers receive compensation for any healthy animals culled to control the spread of exotic animal diseases such as foot and mouth disease or swine fever; farmers do not receive any compensation for animals that die before they are culled or are not culled as part of official controls; farmers are not compensated for consequential losses (e.g. the income that the animal would have generated in the future, for example through laying eggs or producing offspring).

Defra is working with different veterinary sector stakeholders, including the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the British Veterinary Association, on the UK’s veterinary resourcing needs and ensure there are adequate numbers of vets after the UK’s departure from the EU, in the long term.

We are working on a variety of initiatives to build a sustainable and modernised UK veterinary infrastructure to ensure we have access to the right people with the right skills and knowledge to support animal health and welfare.

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