Rocketing costs to use and dispose of ‘essential’ organophosphate (OP) sheep dips in the fight against sheep scab could compromise animal welfare and act as a barrier to eradicating the disease.
Sheep industry chiefs said the Environment Agency’s (EA) decision to charge £2,708 for new applications – a 590 per cent increase – demonstrated a lack of joined-up thinking across Government and called for the costs to be lowered.
A letter to the EA signed by the NFU, National Sheep Association, the Sheep Health and Welfare Group and Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS), said the use of OPs was an ‘essential tool in the armoury’ in the fight against sheep scab.
“Without an effective treatment, sheep scab will compromise the welfare of livestock and affect the productivity of many sheep farms," it said.
“With resistance being reported to the only other alternative sheep scab treatment, these dips are crucial in the battle to control this parasite and keep our livestock as safe as possible. Putting more pressure on the alternative treatment to OP dips could risk their effectiveness in the long-term.
“The increased costs to use and dispose of dip will only act as a barrier to the industry eradicating this disease.”
The group also said it had ‘major concerns over a lack of transparency [from the EA] throughout the consultation process and its unwillingness to consider responses’.
It is now calling for a full breakdown of how the EA calculated the additional costs.
The EA said the increases, announced last month, were necessary in order to ‘fully recover the costs’ of its activities.