In one of his many appearances before the EFRA committee, this spring Ben Bradshaw gave his assurance that farmer Compulsory Purchase compensation for cattle slaughtered after reacting to exposure to Tb, would be pegged for at least 2 years at the amount paid in 2003. This despite his own prediction of an increase in cattle slaughtered of 20 percent per year.
We described how the Minister planned to do this in an earlier post, (New Kid on Defra's Block) and the appropriately named Dan Hackett, Defra's new Compensation Acountant has been so successful that we hear he has requested an assistant.
Under the 1978 Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Compensation Act, the Tuberculosis (England and Wales) Order 1984 and any subsequent amendments, farmers received 75 per cent of 'market value' for an animal which Defra wished to kill, and they insured their herds for any top ups that the value of their stock warranted.
This later changed to 100 per cent of 'market value' (as defined by prices achieved in the local markets, but excluding dispersal and specialist breed sales) with valuers being appointed to assess pedigree animals.
This continued until early August 2004 when the old BT1A (revised1995) form, was replaced by a very different animal, the BT 1 (Revised July 2004)
Under the previous scheme the animal was valued and a price agreed by both the owner and the valuer, (acting on behalf of Defra) and only then was the form signed by both parties.
With the new form, a signature is required first.
So what is the owner of the animal actually signing ?
Defra's form indicates that it verifies the method of valuation. That is, the valuation will be carried out by a 'valuer appointed by the department'- who is not necessarily one which the owner would have chosen. We've mentioned before the cases of 'valuers' who auction chickens, sheep and granny's dresser, but never deep pedigree beef or dairy cattle. Nevertheless, the new form MUST be signed BEFORE any valuation commences, and to make sure that this is understood, Defra have printed the note in Black BLOCK Capitals.
Several farmers have contacted the editors about Dan's new Hack-it job on cattle values and many are uncomfortable with this 'signature required' part prior to a valuation not yet received. One asked what would happen if no signature was given and the stark answer was "no signature - no valuation" .
Some SVS staff are under the impression that the signature merely confirms the method of valuation, and that is all. But a further note on the new form we quote below:
Note :"Valuations arising from any of the above methods are final and not subject to appeal"
Trading Standards are constantly telling us not to sign anything, until we have the goods in hand.
Doorstep selling is equally loaded with 'consumer protection'. But with this new form, farmers are instructed to sign a form agreeing to a value they do not yet know, made by a person who may not have the experience to do the job in which he claims to be competant. If they refuse to sign, there can be no valuation, and if they do then there is 'no appeal' if it all goes pear shaped.
Meanwhile courtesy of our Ben, who is prepared to spend £2 billion of taxpayer's money in the next 10 years NOT eradicating Tb, farmers are unable to protect their stock with insurance for TB. Such is the haemorrhage of the farm insurance budget through Tb claims, that those lucky enough to still have insurance will find their cover has halved and the premium increased ten fold. If there has been a claim, re-insurance is 'unlikely'. And for those who thought Tb insurance would be a good idea, forget it. The companies are not taking on new customers. "Exposure to risk is too great".
So what has our Minister of Fisheries and Conservation achieved?
2003 farmer compensation for a heap of dead cattle pegged at £31 million.
20 percent increase in that heap in 2004 forecast by our Ben.
Another 20 percent increase in 2005 forecast by our Ben .
Compounded, that is a 44 per cent increase in 2 years for which Ben promised the EFRA committee, he would be paying the same money. And it's Dan Hackett's job to make sure the promise is carried out.
Hack - To slash. To chop. To cut. (Oxford English Dictionary)