UK - New proposals have been announced by the government to help tackle bovine tuberculosis (TB), as part of a 25-year strategy to eradicate the disease.
In a statement, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said that bovine TB costs taxpayers £100m each year, and identified it as a significant threat to the future of our beef and dairy industries, directly affecting one in five of all herds in the worst affected parts of the country.
The new proposals include:
- A consultation on introducing compulsory testing for all cattle entering low-risk areas, such as the north and east of England, to reduce the risk of new TB cases in these regions.
- A consultation on changes to the criteria for future badger control licences such as reducing the minimum area for a licence – an approach based on the latest scientific evidence and supported by the Chief Vet.
- A call for views on controlling TB in non-bovine animals such as pigs, goats, and deer.
Farming Minister George Eustice said: "England has the highest incidence of TB in Europe and that is why we are taking strong action to deliver our 25-year strategy to eradicate the disease and protect the future of our dairy and beef industries.
"This includes strengthening cattle testing and movement controls, vaccinating badgers in the buffer zone around high-risk areas, and culling badgers where the disease is rife.
"Our approach of dealing with the disease in cattle and wildlife has worked overseas and is supported by leading vets."
Natural England has authorised targeted badger culls in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset this year as part of the eradication strategy. Other measures that have already been introduced include tougher movement controls, more frequent testing and is supporting badger vaccination schemes in the “Edge area”, a buffer zone established to contain the spread of the disease.
Meurig Raymond, President of the National Farmers' Union (NFU), welcomed the announcement, saying: “Bovine TB remains a huge problem for beef and dairy farmers across the South West, large parts of the Midlands and beyond.
"Thousands of cattle farmers are fighting a daily battle against the spread of this disease. More than 32,800 cattle were slaughtered because of this disease last year and more than 4,700 herds that had been clear of it were affected by it.”
“We are pleased that the Government is pressing ahead with its 25-year strategy to eradicate bovine TB.
"The NFU believes the strategy – the first comprehensive plan to tackle bovine TB in England - gives us the best chance of controlling and eradicating this devastating disease and it is vital it is implemented in full as quickly as possible."
However, Mr Raymond said the organisation was disappointed that badger culling had not been rolled out to more areas, saying: “We know there are many areas where the disease is rife that would benefit from badger culling and where farmers are prepared to play their part in the fight against bovine TB."
TheCattleSite News Desk