Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tabular Valuation to face a High Court challenge

Farmers Guardian reports this week that Defra’s controversial tabular valuation system is to face a High Court challenge later this year.

An unnamed Devon farmer, whose pedigree cattle were culled in a TB outbreak has won the right to institute a Judicial Review of the system, which is due to be held later this year.

Prior to February 2006, these animals would have been individually valued, but Defra’s ‘market average’ has replaced this system with a ‘one size fits none’ table reflecting previous month’s auction values. No leeway is granted for the age of the animal, her breed or quality. Thus a young pedigree Holstein is rated the same – in Defra’s eyes – as an aged Jersey. Both pedigree, both over 36 months, but a world of difference in valuation.

The NFU are backing the challenge which is expected to be heard in the High court later this year, and also backing it - should Ecstacy Jounalist Roxy fail a TB test again - will be Worcestershire farmer Richard Bown, whose story we told
in February

Under tabular valuation this young animal would have been ‘valued’ by Defra’s tabular system at just £855, this despite being officially and independently valued at between £85,000 and £115,000. Mr. Bown challenged the protocol of the original test and has won the right to a retrial for Roxy. We will report the result of this re-test when we have it.


George said...

That is great news. How can Defra continue to support the policy of table valuations for TB cattle compensation when this amounts to legalised theft for most of those involved. The current system is unreasonable. Our legal system is based on reasonability – hopefully this will prevail and Defra will be made to reconsider table valuations.

Not everybody is upset with this system, though. The owner of the 20 year old Guernsey house cow giving a pint of milk a day would be very happy with the valuation, as would the owner of a young Dexter steer!

Matthew said...

Hi George. We heard another crazy story re valuation this week. And another farmer we suspect who will join the list of challengers.
Among his 11 reactors were two pedigree bulls. One was a week under 24 months old and was 'valued' at £X . The other, six days over 24 months was valued at £Y on Defra's tabular valuations chart.
The difference between the two, for those 13 days, was £3000.

The 'exposure to risk' is still making insurance impossible for most of us. And the loss adjusters don't mean cattle.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick query which I hope someone can answer. Why should the taxpayer compensate farmers for the compulsary purchase of sick animals?

Matthew said...

Anon: 8.32
bTB is a zoonosis which can and does affect human beings. As such, its control is a governmental responsibility under various EU and OIE directives.

Taular valuations are in place for several serious animal diseases in this category, brucellosis is another one. And in just about every other case, farmers are able to assume responsibilty for insuring their stock for any value over and above the tabular, if they feel it necessary.

As we said in an answer to a previous posting however, insurance companies are not offering TB cover if you have a) had a claim (and that's most of us on the site) or b) have not had insurance cover for TB before and happen to live in a 'lively' area.

They are not fools. And they explained to us a while ago that "exposure to risk was too great". When we queried that, citing biosecurity / no bought in cattle etc., the chap roared with laughter. "You know I mean" he said, "those little black and white foxes"

So the answer to your question is that bTb compulsory purchase falls to government responsibility, and the top up for above average cattle, which should be available to farmers, because of the level of infection in wildlife and the fact that bTb claims are 'haemorrhaging' the farm insurance budget, is in fact unavailable to most of us. If you are lucky enough to have bTb insurance and have not made a claim, then the premium has exploded 10 fold, and the cover on offer, more than halved. Insurance companies do not put up the umbrella when it is raining.