Further measures to combat bovine TB as part of our comprehensive strategy to beat the disease in England have been confirmed by Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss.
A Biosecurity Action Plan is published today which sets out plans to help farmers reduce the risk of disease spread on their farms, and there will be a new service giving farmers within the badger cull areas bespoke veterinary advice on TB management.
This comes as the results of the second year of the badger culls were published. The advice of the Chief Vet is that the results in Somerset show that the approach can be carried out effectively.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:
During the last Parliament bovine TB rates in England soared to the highest in Europe. That is why we are taking strong action in pursuing our comprehensive strategy, including tighter cattle movement controls, vaccinations and culling.
The Chief Vet’s advice is that results of this year’s cull in Somerset show they can be effective. That is why I am determined to continue with a comprehensive Strategy that includes culling.
There are also plans to launch a consultation on a package of tougher cattle measures in the New Year, including statutory post-movement testing for cattle entering the Low Risk Area.
Other planned measures for next year include launching a web-based map showing locations of TB under new statutory powers introduced earlier this year and publishing disease reports for the Edge and Low Risk Areas. We have also awarded £50,000 in small grants to livestock markets to support measures to encourage cattle purchasers to give greater consideration to the TB risk of animals they are buying.
Independently audited results of the badger culls show that this year 341 badgers were removed in Somerset and 274 in Gloucestershire, with levels of humaneness and a high standard of public safety maintained. In Somerset the minimum number of badgers was exceeded. The results for Gloucestershire reflect the challenges of extensive unlawful protest and intimidation.
The European Commission has endorsed the government’s comprehensive TB eradication programme by providing further financial support in 2015, showing that the government’s TB Strategy is recognised to be comprehensive and effective.