Cost sharing warning

The government is committed to cost-sharing when it comes to animal health responsibilities, Defra's John Bourne told delegates at the BMPA conference.

He said: "Finding a new way forward on the sharing of responsibility and costs for animal health is also a big priority. Sharing responsibility should provide opportunities to reduce regulatory burdens and improve the quality of legislation that is needed.

"Aligning costs more clearly with those who stand to benefit from the risk activity should encourage a reduction in risk, and ensure the taxpayer does not pay for risks that should be borne by businesses."

However, Professor David Harvey, from the University of Newcastle's School of Agriculture, Food & Rural Development, said we should beware of going down that route. "Business doesn't bear the cost if the consumer is willing to pay - we're talking about passing the burden from the taxpayer to the consumer.

"There's a lot of talk of better regulation and we hear lot about cost-sharing, but a lot of people think cost-cutting is what it really amounts to."