HC Deb 26 March 2001 vol 365 c519W
Dr. Cable

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what estimate he has made of the proportion of livestock farmers who have privately insured against foot and mouth disease; [153730]

(2) what efforts his Department has made to increase the take-up of private insurance cover for foot and mouth and other major livestock diseases. [153731]

Ms Quin [holding answer 14 March 2001]

At the outset of last year's outbreak of Classical Swine Fever, my right hon. Friend the Minister established a joint Government/industry working party to consider what measures the livestock industry could take to protect itself in future against the commercial consequences of animal disease outbreaks. Government compensation is the value of animals slaughtered and does not extend to consequential losses caused by movement restrictions. The NFU and others from the livestock industry agreed to join the working party to examine the practicalities and specifics of such measures, including insurance arrangements. The working party report was due to be completed in the spring, although this may now be slightly delayed while attention is concentrated on eradicating the present foot and mouth outbreaks.

As part of this work, consultants were engaged to assess what types of animal disease insurance cover are presently available and the level of uptake. From this it is clear that the number and scope of available insurance products is very limited, that these are not widely purchased by farmers and that they tend to concentrate on a few diseases such as bovine TB and foot and mouth. We have made no formal estimate of the proportion of livestock farmers who have privately insured against foot and mouth disease. However NFU Mutual, the largest provider of agricultural insurance, estimate that around 10 per cent. of farmers have policies covering the disease.