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Union unhappy over BSE costs falling on members

The cost of testing fallen stock over 48 months old for BSE will lie with farmers and crofters from April 1.
The cost of testing fallen stock over 48 months old for BSE will lie with farmers and crofters from April 1.

Farmers and crofters will foot the bill for BSE testing of fallen stock from April 1.

NFU Scotland (NFUS) said it had received confirmation from the Scottish Government that the cost of testing fallen stock more than 48 months old for BSE – Bovine spongiform encephalopathy – will lie with producers from the start of next month.

The union’s animal health policy manager Penny Johnstone said while the estimated testing fee of around £7.50 per animal was relatively low, it was another example of “simply passing food safety charges all the way down the chain to the primary producer, leaving the industry to carry the burden”.

She said since the outbreak of BSE in the 1980s, industry had faced “significant costs and losses” associated with abattoir controls, specified risk material removal and disposal costs.

“Industry also bears all the costs associated with the collection of fallen stock, a measure put in place to protect human and environmental health,” added Ms Johnstone.

“This is a cost that is painful to producers and one that seems to be ever-increasing.”

She said the cost for collection of an adult cattle for testing can range between £85 and £200.

“The need to review and manage these costs is long overdue,” added Ms Johnstone.

“NFUS believes that as an industry, we already pay the significant cost of carcase collection for BSE testing yet we now have to pay the additional cost of sampling for a disease that is not infectious, or an animal disease concern.

“BSE is a food safety issue and the cost of sampling and testing should be covered by government as industry already contributes significantly through abattoir controls and fallen stock collection.”

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