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Cattle Stocks

Volume 455: debated on Monday 15 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the relative values of organic and non-organic cattle stocks; and if he will consider proposals to pay enhanced compensation for organic reactors to tuberculosis tests. (114022)

The Government recognise that the current table-based cattle compensation system (for tuberculosis, enzootic bovine leukosis, bovine spongiform encephalopathy and brucellosis) is a cause of concern to farmers of organic cattle, and officials are considering representations made.

We have set up the Cattle Compensation Advisory Group (CCAG) to work with the industry to monitor the introduction of the new compensation system. One of the issues the CCAG has considered is the impact of the new arrangements on the organic sector.

Defra and the CCAG are discussing a range of ideas the group has suggested for enhancing the current compensation arrangements. While DEFRA has not ruled out the possibility of changes to the compensation system, they are not inevitable. Any changes would need to be justified and fair to farmers and the taxpayer. They would also need to take account of the extensive evidence about the level of over valuation experienced under the previous system based on individual valuations.

I will write to the hon. Member when I am in a position to provide an update on developments.