Proposals which could have seen a financial levy placed on gamebirds have been shelved after BASC called for them to be abandoned. The tax was designed to help cover the costs of a new body to fight major disease outbreaks such as avian flu. Defra has now published a draft Animal Health Bill which will establish a new Animal Health Organisation to take over policy and delivery in England from Defra, but initial plans to include a tax on each reared gamebird have been dropped.

Tom Blades, head of Game and Gamekeeping for the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) said: “BASC called on the government to drop these proposals and they have done so. We will continue to protect traditional British game rearing interests from inclusion in measures which are primarily aimed at the poultry industry. Game rearing in the UK is a unique and specialised sector and the implications of a compulsory tax on birds would have been dramatic, including giving European producers an unfair competitive advantage over UK producers.”
The contents of the draft bill are open for consultation until the 19th of April. Tom Blades said: “BASC will be responding to this latest round of consultation, but after almost a year of discussion we are pleased to see Defra has adopted a common sense approach to game rearing on this issue. We will continue to monitor the development of mechanisms for cost sharing; future policy development at this stage is anyone’s guess. BASC has been urging Defra to focus on ways to prevent disease outbreaks rather than concentrating on finding ways to pay for them.”      

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