The Health of Livestock and Honeybees in England
HC 288, Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Session 2008-2009
- National Audit Office (NAO)
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and its Animal Health agency successfully contained limited outbreaks of Avian Influenza and Foot and Mouth Disease in 2007. The estimated £33 million expenditure by Animal Health in 2007-08 on dealing with these exotic disease outbreaks has represented good value for money when compared to the economic costs of these diseases becoming more widespread.
The control of some of the more serious endemic diseases has been managed less successfully. Good progress has been made with the control of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), Scrapie and Salmonella, but Bovine Tuberculosis has continued to spread. In 2007-08, tackling Bovine Tuberculosis accounted for 39% of Animal Health's total expenditure.
Other conclusions and recommendations made by the National Audit Office include:
Herd restrictions are applied immediately when disease is identified but compliance with the requirements for routine testing to detect disease is not rigorously enforced.
There are no national standards on farm biosecurity to minimise the risk of diseases spreading.
The Department, Animal Health and other inspection bodies, such as local authorities, do not systematically collect and share information about biosecurity risks.
Beekeepers have reported unusually high losses of honeybees in recent years and, now that the Varroa parasite is endemic, honeybee colonies are more vulnerable to other diseases.
Controlling Varroa and monitoring of other diseases is hampered by the limited inspections of colonies carried out by the Department's National Bee Unit. An estimated 20,000 beekeepers are not known to the Unit's inspectors and are less likely to notify the Department of any diseases.
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