THE Animal Health and Welfare Board for England (AHWBE) chairman Michael Seals has announced that new compensation arrangements for animal disease in England should be in place next year.

AHWBE has been carrying out a review of all disease compensation arrangements in discussion with the farming industry.

Defra’s 25-year bTB eradication strategy outlines possible changes to compensation arrangements, including linking payment levels to biosecurity such as testing arrangements and cattle purchases.

There has also been discussion of a central bTB fund paid into by farmers nationally to cover costs like wildlife control, compensation and testing.

The AHWBE review goes further, covering arrangements for exotic diseases such as foot-and-mouth, classical swine fever and avian influenza.

Among the options under discussion are a levy or some sort of insurance scheme.

The issue, for a long time under the banner of cost and responsibility sharing, has been under discussion since the 2001 FMD outbreak.

Mr Seals acknowledged the current review was taking longer than he would liked as “we have had to engage with people who are not always willing to do so”. But he insisted it would not be another 13 years before the talks bear fruit.

“No, I am hoping we will complete it in 2015,” he said, speaking ahead of AHWBE’s annual stakeholder meeting.

“I am hopeful we can work with the industry to find solutions that are acceptable to everybody.

“We will be working with officials to achieve a fair outcome for individual animal keepers, while providing effective compliance and control measures good value for public money.”

He stressed finances were under pressure across Government and said AHWBE wanted to find solutions in collaboration between Government and industry.