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Defra announces new TB compensation rates for pigs

16th Dec 2016 / By Alistair Driver

Defra has revealed plans for new TB compensation rates for pigs, including payments of £250 for a gilt or sow and £350 for a boar.

pigs002The compensation rates will apply to pigs compulsorily slaughtered because of bTB, as the Government takes steps to bring TB rules for non-bovines into line with those already in place for cattle.

Defra, which also announced plans to extend the badger cull and to declare large parts of England TB Free in 2017, has announced its TB policy on non-bovines, following a consultation earlier this year.

The NPA rejected large parts of the Defra's proposed package of TB rules for non-bovines, telling Defra in its consultation response some of the measures risked imposing additional burdens on pig farms while achieving little in reducing disease risk. 

Defra has, nonetheless, announced it will be going ahead with most of the measures as proposed in 2017, including: 

  • Applying the duty to report suspicion of TB in live bovine animals to all non-bovine
  • species
  • Applying to all non-bovine species the duty on veterinary inspectors to carry out a veterinary inquiry where they have reason to believe that there is on any premises a live non-bovine animal or carcase affected by, or suspected of being affected by, TB
  • Applying to all non-bovine species the powers that require a keeper to have any animal tested for TB with a relevant test by a specified date
  • Aapplying to all non-bovine species the prohibitions and consent requirements relating to testing, treatment and vaccination that currently apply to bovines
  • Applying to all non-bovine species powers that enable an inspector to require the isolation of specific animals and prohibit the movement of some or all animals on to or off premises, except under licence
  • Applying to all non-bovine species the powers for a veterinary inspector to require steps to be taken by the operators of markets, shows etc. to manage the risks posed by animals affected by, or exposed to, TB and, if necessary, remove specified animals from such premises.

For each of the above measures, Defra states: "The Government will bring forward legislation to give effect to this proposal as soon as possible in 2017." 

In some cases, clarification is given. For example, on the measure to require a keeper to have an animal tested by a certain date, the Government stressed it already has powers to require testing of all of the species within the scope of this proposal.

However, these powers are not used in cases where veterinary advice is that testing isn’t a proportionate response to the problem, it said.

Compensation

The Government will go ahead with plans to introduce statutory compensation but following strong objections, including from NPA, it has abandoned plans to set compensation at 50 per cent of the animal's estimated value.

It acknowledged 'the clear collective view that the proposed 50 per cent of base rate (for compensation purposes) is not sufficient to ensure disease is reported'.

It also rejected the proposal, againly strongly opposed by NPA, to use figures from the
John Nix Pocketbook as base values for some species and categories.

Instead the Government has decided to adopt standardised compensation rates already in place in Scotland and Wales. For pigs, these are:

Breeding female (Gilt or Sow) - £250

Breeding male - £350

Suckler (a pig weighing under 25kg) - £30

Weaner (a pig weighing from 25kg to 35kg) - £40

Grower or Finisher (a pig weighing over 35kg) - £90

NPA consultation response

In the NPA's response to the consultation, chief executive Zoe Davies stated: “We completely accept that developing coherent transparent regulations is important and will aid greater compliance, but we disagree with your view that none of the proposed changes will impose significant new burdens on the pig sector.

“It appears that in some of the areas, change has been suggested to make life simpler for the regulator with little thought for the likely financial impact on the industry.”

The NPA told Defra its consultation failed to address the most important issue relating to bTB in pigs - the need to develop a sensible testing and exit strategy for affected herds that is proportionate to risk involved.

The NPA response added: “The proposed additional controls appear to be at odds with the very low risk the pig herd poses to the spread and maintenance of bTB, despite continually referring to pigs (quite rightly) as spill-over hosts.”

Disproportionate burden

Some pig farmers have been under TB restriction for a considerable time, despite low disease levels. 

One NPA member has been under TB restriction since a cull sow was confirmed with bTB in May 2014. Since then, at least 60,000 pigs have gone through to slaughter from the restricted herd with no bTB disclosed or suspected and yet the farm remains under restriction with no exit strategy. 

The TB restrictions have already cost the business £300,000 in transport costs alone thanks to the need to divert pigs to an alternative abattoir. 

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