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Farms: Inspections

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 23 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 25 March 2008, Official Report, columns 123-4W, on farms: inspections, what proportion of the Animal Health budget for 2007-08 is allocated to on-farm work; what the cost was to the public purse arising from farm inspections conducted by the (a) Rural Payments Agency, (b) Environment Agency, (c) Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate, (d) Natural England, (e) Food Standards Agency, (f) Pesticides Safety Directorate and (g) Health and Safety Executive in each of the last five years. (198092)

The total Animal Health budget for 2007-08 was £109,864,000. The proportion for on-farm work is 65 per cent., and is estimated to be £71,412,000. This is only an estimate as not all bills have been processed. This estimate includes all on-farm work, including inspections and visits, and back office costs, for example, administration and travel. This does not include disease outbreak costs and costs relating to abattoir visits.

The reduction in percentage for this financial year is mainly attributed to staff who would have been carrying out on-farm work being required to work on the disease outbreaks in 2007 (estimated to be around 16 per cent. of the budget). Therefore, being unable to perform the on-farm work recorded here.

The following table sets out the costs to the public purse incurred by inspections carried out by the Rural Payments Agency. The figure is all-inclusive, covering direct cost of conducting on-farm inspections, management, co-ordination, support and administrative costs such as accommodation, equipment and travel.

Cost (£)

2003-04

10,335,572

2004-05

10,026,506

2005-06

11,816,061

2006-07

13,365,000

2007-08

12,932,423

The Environment Agency operates an integrated programme of farm inspections covering a number of regulatory regimes. Some regulatory regimes provide for charges to recover costs from those that are regulated while others are funded by Grant in Aid from DEFRA.

The Environment Agency estimates that the annual Grant in Aid cost of agricultural inspections is approximately £3.4 million. This has not changed significantly over the last five years.

The Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI) undertakes a range of plant health duties. While this includes some on-farm inspections, the majority of PHSI inspection work is undertaken either at points of entry or on horticultural premises. It is not possible to separately identify expenditure specific to on-farm work.

Natural England does not undertake formal farm inspections. All formal farm inspections in relation to England Rural Development Programme and Rural Development Programme for England agreements are conducted by the Rural Payments Agency Inspectorate.

The Pesticides Safety Directorate does not undertake farm inspections.

The Health and Safety Executive is not an Agency of DEFRA.