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NFU helps Poultry Producers win landmark case against Animal and Plant Health Agency

A group of NFU members recently emerged victorious in a legal battle against the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), an arm of DEFRA, concerning compensation for poultry farmers affected by Avian Influenza outbreaks. Assisted by the NFU and its legal support scheme, these members successfully challenged APHA’s handling of compensation procedures.

The case centred on farmers who promptly reported suspected Avian Influenza cases to APHA, which then dispatched officers to investigate. Upon confirmation of an outbreak, APHA mandated the culling of all birds on affected farms, regardless of their health status, with the culling to occur at a later time.

Delays in the culling process led to healthy birds contracting the virus during the interim period. Compensation is based on the number of healthy birds culled. Consequently, it was argued that affected farmers should be compensated from the point when APHA determined the need for culling, rather than the later date of actual culling, which often resulted in more birds being infected and reduced compensation pay-outs.

In a significant victory for NFU members, the Court ruled in favour of their argument during the Judicial Review, deeming the government’s culling policies unlawful.

As a result of this landmark decision, other poultry farmers may now have the opportunity to have their compensation reassessed based on the revised interpretation of the law.

For more information about this article and our agricultural legal services generally please contact Esther Woolford or Laura Mackain-Bremner. Clarke Willmott are the longstanding NFU legal panel firm for Dorset, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

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