Plans to tax England’s gamefarmers and rearers up to 12p per bird have been put on hold by the Government. The decision was revealed recently when DEFRA published its draft Animal Health Bill in late January. The draft Bill, which is currently undergoing a period of public consultation, dropped the controversial requirement for animal keepers to pay a compulsory insurance levy on a per head of livestock basis. The insurance plan was forecast to cost gamefarmers and rearers up to 8p per bird kept. The draft Bill also put on hold, until the introduction of an unspecified future Finance Bill, the need to pay a further 4p “health tax” levy per gamebird, whether a day-old or a poult in a release pen.

The shelved plans form part of the Government’s Responsibility and Cost-Sharing policy, which is intended to make the agricultural sector — including gamefarming and rearing businesses — pay for the cost of outbreaks of diseases such as avian influenza and foot-and-mouth disease.

The principal purpose of the draft Animal Health Bill is to create a new animal health organisation. Hilary Benn, secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, explained the thinking behind the plan: “Those running the new animal health organisation would include people with experience of the livestock industry and specialists in animal and public health, so that those making a living from animals and who are directly affected by diseases can contribute to policies and decisions about animal health.”

The rest of this article appears in 10th February issue of Shooting Times.

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