In an email to members of the Gamebird Working Group from DEFRA’s Charlotte Coles, which was subsequently passed on to Shooting Times, it was revealed: “…budgets are currently under review in DEFRA and, as decisions have yet to be made regarding budget allocations, we need to be cautious about taking forward work that may have short or long-term financial consequences. Therefore, no arrangement for the next meeting will be made until we know what our financial situation is. I apologise for this uncertainty.”

The industry’s own Code of Good Game Rearing Practice was first published in 1994, but a more detailed code has since been devised by the Game Farmers’ Association (GFA).

DEFRA’s official version, ostensibly based on the GFA’s, is due to be released this year.

A spokesman for the GFA told Shooting Times he was not aware DEFRA’s code had been put on hold: “I suspect someone may be being alarmist. I had heard that DEFRA, having overspent, is reviewing all projects and has not yet allocated project-specific budgets. The GFA would certainly be disappointed if work on the game rearing code were to be a victim of belt-tightening, but we have been given no indication whether this is likely. The Animal Welfare Act imposed a new duty of care on all animal keepers and the draft code aims to define for everyone’s benefit what that duty comprises in relation to gamebird management.”

He added: “Until the Government code is finalised, there will always be doubt as to how the courts might interpret the Act, but our feeling is that in the meantime as long as game rearers are following the GFA’s own code, they are most unlikely to fall foul of the law.”

The rest of this article appears in 21 February issue of Shooting Times.

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