In a judgment handed down today, a group of NFU members has won a landmark legal challenge against the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) in a battle over the proper compensation payable to poultry farmers affected by Avian Influenza (AI).
The members, supported by the NFU, argued that APHA had wrongly interpreted the law underpinning its compensation scheme and failed to properly compensate affected farmers for birds which were healthy at the point at which it decided they should be culled.
Today’s ruling confirms the NFU’s long-held view that the government has been applying an unlawful policy to the calculation of compensation for farmers affected by AI and that the right to compensation for healthy birds affected by AI accrues at the point at which APHA decides that the birds should be culled, and not at the later point of culling.
Due to delays by APHA between condemnation and culling, many healthy birds became affected by AI in the interim period, leading to substantial losses for producers under APHA’s unlawful compensation regime.
NFU President Minette Batters said: “Today’s High Court judgment is a tremendous result for the members who brought the legal challenge, as well as the NFU and its wider membership. AI is a truly devasting disease; so many farmers have suffered and are still enduring the aftereffects of the catastrophic outbreaks witnessed since 2021. The High Court has made clear that APHA’s AI compensation policy is unlawful, and we now look to government to rectify this wrong and to pay farmers the compensation to which they are lawfully entitled.”
NFU poultry board chair James Mottershead said: “This is a hugely significant judgment for poultry farmers, providing important clarity on the interpretation of the AI compensation regime. On behalf of the poultry sector, I would like to express my gratitude to the NFU members who have fought this challenge from the outset right up until today’s fantastic judgment, and it’s great to see the power of what the NFU can do for its members. The government’s flawed approach to calculating AI compensation over recent years must be swiftly corrected as a result of this ruling.”
NFU legal board chair Nick Hamer said: “This is an incredible result for the members involved in this case, along with the NFU and the wider poultry sector. The NFU’s Legal Assistance Scheme has provided significant financial support to the members bringing the claim. I would like to pay tribute to the dedication and expertise of the NFU’s poultry team and in-house legal department along with the fantastic support provided by NFU Panel Firm Jacksons Law Firm and legal Counsel Malcolm Birdling and Jagoda Klimowicz. This highlights once again the huge value of the NFU and the NFU’s LAS in supporting our members.”