Further steps to help tackle bovine TB in England have been announced today as part of the Government’s comprehensive strategy to beat the disease.
Bovine TB costs taxpayers £100m each year. It is 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.
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.
Chief Vet Nigel Gibbens said:
Controlling bovine TB is vital for our beef and dairy industries. These proposals to further strengthen testing in the low risk areas will provide additional protection to farmers in those areas, helping them to stay disease free.
Maintaining strong cattle disease control measures, combined with culling wildlife where the disease is most prevalent, will help us to achieve further disease reduction on farms suffering from TB in the high risk areas.
As part of our measured approach to tackling bovine TB and achieving disease control benefits Natural England has authorised targeted badger culls in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset this year.
Under the Government’s long-term strategy to eradicate bovine TB, Defra has already introduced 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.
Earlier this year, Defra published a new online tool mapping the location of bovine TB incidents over the last five years, allowing farmers to make informed decisions when buying livestock. The Animal and Plant Health Agency released epidemiological reports, providing cattle keepers and vets with a detailed analysis of the disease situation in local areas.