News

What is ‘adequate compensation’ for BJD affected producers

James Nason, 28/02/2013

One of the major and yet-to-be-resolved issues stemming from Queensland's ongoing Bovine Johne’s Disease control and eradication program is the question of how impacted producers should be compensated.

The Queensland Government and industry leaders are currently working on the development of a biosecurity and compensation fund to be supported by producer levies, but are yet to reveal details on how it will work. 

One person who believes a simple answer exists to the question of how adequate compensation should be defined is veteran agricultural scientist and consultant Ian Aberdeen, who has specialised in the area of assessing farm losses and agricultural compensation matters for more than 40 years.

“Adequate compensation is the sum of money that will put the cattleman back in the position he would now be in but for the BJD problem,” Mr Aberdeen said.

Mr Aberdeen will speak on the topic of assessing losses and calculating adequate compensation at a BJD forum at Paradise Lagoon near Rockhampton on Monday.

He told Beef Central ahead of the event that the “fundamental point” about compensation is that each affected business should receive the sum of money required to put it back to where it was prior to the event.

That came down to constructing a budget that showed how the farm would have run with the trouble and without the trouble.

But he also warned that the definition of fair compensation extended both ways, and claims should not attempt to cover anything above and beyond what had been lost.

Mr Aberdeen said the method of calculating adequate compensation was very well specified in common law, but, even so, few people ended up being adequately compensated.

This was due to several reasons, including that some people didn’t pursue compensation, some lacked the resources to get involved in legal action, and claims were often vigorously defended by insurance companies with in depth experience at defending claims.

Another factor was that it was often difficult to make a claim against a parliamentary policy in a democracy because parliamentarians were appointed by people to make policy.

“But if they implement that policy in a way which lacks duty of care then it can be possible (to mount a successful challenge) ,” Mr Aberdeen said.

The current agenda for Monday’s BJD forum at Paradise Lagoons near Rockhampton is as follows: 9:30am: registration, morning tea; 10:15am: welcome by Graeme Acton; 10:20am: outlining of proceedings by the independent chair, Taroom vet Paul Wright; 10:30am: History of Johne’s, Don Lawson; 10:40am: Current position in Queensland – Biosecurity Qld, AgForce, Cattle Council of Australia; ABBA; 11:15am: Current progress with BJD – Silirum Vaccine, Sue Schryver, Pfizer; 11:30am: Independent Veterinarian Advice: David Rendell and John Webb-Ware; 11:45am: Federal Depertment of Agriculture representative Paul Nixon; 12pm: Lunch; 12:45pm: The breed societies – practicalities for stud breeders; 1pm: What BJD means to producers? Producer case-studies; 1:40pm: What is adequate compensation? Ian Aberdeen; 2pm: Facilitated discussion for all to participate; 3pm: summary of proceedings, facilitator. 

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