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The members argued APHA, part of Defra, had wrongly interpreted the law underpinning its compensation scheme

A group of NFU members has won a landmark legal challenge against the Animal & Plant Health Agency over the proper compensation payable to poultry farmers affected by bird flu.

The members argued that APHA, part of Defra, 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.

The decision from the court confirmed the union’s view that the government had been applying an unlawful policy to the calculation of compensation for farmers affected by avian influenza (AI).

The case found the right to compensation for healthy birds affected by AI accrues at the point at which APHA decides 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.

“AI is a truly devasting disease – so many farmers have suffered and are still enduring the after-effects of the catastrophic outbreaks witnessed since 2021,” said NFU president Minette Batters.

“The High Court has made clear APHA’s AI compensation policy is unlawful, and we now look to government to rectify this wrong and pay farmers the compensation to which they are lawfully entitled,” she added.

“We appreciate the distress that avian influenza can cause all bird keepers who are affected by this awful disease,” said a Defra spokesman.

“We are considering the judgement and are unable to comment further at this stage.”