DEFRA’s proposed levy on gamebirds in England could be as much as 16p per bird, according to the Game Farmers’ Association (GFA).

The Responsibility and Cost Sharing consultation, which closes on 30 June, proposes forcing gamefarmers to pay a levy of 4p per bird as well as a mandatory insurance premium of 12p per bird to share the costs of future outbreaks of disease, such as bird flu and foot-and-mouth. This would mean that the health tax on each bird would be 16p.

This tax would apply to all gamebirds, from day-olds to mature birds. Shoots would be required to pay an additional levy for every poult bought in and placed in a release pen.

A spokesman for the GFA explained: “Our calculation of the possible 12p premium is as follows: DEFRA requires a levy of 4p per bird to raise the poultry sector’s share of the £22million needed for research and surveillance.

According to DEFRA, the total amount needed from livestock industry-funded insurance to cover half of the expected costs of disease outbreaks in an average year is £67million. This is therefore the amount that the insurers will presumably have to charge the livestock keepers as their total annual premium. The estimated figure of £67million is roughly three times the £22million, so it will cost three times as much to raise. In the case of the poultry sector, therefore, this would equate to 12p per bird.” He added: “Looked at another way, add the proposed 4p levy to the projected 12p premium and you get 16p per bird, which is about twice the profit currently obtainable on a day-old game chick produced in the UK.”

The rest of this article appears in 28 May issue of Shooting Times.

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