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‘TIMES are changing’ in veterinary surveillance and money will have to be found from outside government if the current levels of surveillance are to be maintained. This was the view of Jane Gibbens, from Defra, speaking at the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) congress, which was held in Southport from November 24 to 26.
The reality was, she said, ‘We've got a funding gap – we all know about the current economic situation. [But] where are we going to get the funds from to maintain what we've been spending or possibly to increase it if we really think . . . our risk is increasing?’
However, she believed there was also a real opportunity for industry to become more involved and help set the direction of surveillance, so that it became a true cost and responsibility sharing issue, with the benefits as well as the costs being shared between government and industry. Currently, industry contributed around 3 per cent of the costs of surveillance and that needed to increase, she said. Some of the outcomes from surveillance were of benefit to society; for example, public health benefits, food security and food safety, so it was right that government, through the taxpayer, should contribute some funding to it.
‘You've got to budget to spend on mitigating disease impact,’ she said. ‘Where do we allocate that and how much of that should be on surveillance and who should be paying?’
In a question and answer session following her presentation, Mrs Gibbens was asked by Joe Brownlie about how industry could be more engaged. In her reply, she suggested that, at the moment, food companies were ‘riding on the back of our health status’. They could be confident …