New support for farmers to help them deal with the impacts of bovine TB, and reduce the risks of further outbreaks, was announced by Agriculture Minister Jim Paice today.
The Defra-funded TB advice and support service was launched as Mr Paice visited a Devon dairy farm to see the impact of the disease there.
From today, all TB affected cattle farmers can access free support from the Farm Crisis Network (FCN) on the financial and business implications of an outbreak. Trained volunteers will provide confidential advice and information on where to go for more specialised help and support.
For the worst-hit farmers, FCN’s new Business Support Group will work directly with farmers to provide tailored advice through the length of their outbreak.
Defra will give additional support to farmers under long-term restrictions and those experiencing their first ever breakdown through one-to-one visits from private vets, to help them understand how TB spreads and what can de done on their farm to reduce risks. A pilot training event for private vets was held last week, in the Southwest.
Defra, the National Farmers Union, Animal Health and the Food and Environment Research Agency have developed a joint training programme on practical biosecurity measures for farmers. On-farm events will be rolled later this year.
Jim Paice said:
“TB is having a devastating effect on many farms and farm businesses, especially in the West and South West of England.”
“This new service will help farmers deal with the very real financial impacts of TB outbreaks and reduce their risks of suffering further breakdowns. There is a lot of expertise in the NFU, Fera, the veterinary profession and the Farm Crisis Network and I am pleased we are providing advice and support with them.”
“This is just part of the radical overhaul of our TB eradication programme which I promised, because we are serious about tackling the disease”.
FCN Executive Director, Reverend Sarah Brown said:
“I am delighted that this initiative allows FCN to work in partnership with other agencies to offer real support to all farm businesses facing the threat or reality of TB.
“There is no farm in England, large, small, prosperous or struggling, that need feel that there is nowhere to turn in the face of TB. FCN’s support is always completely confidential and can be key to turning round a bad situation.
“And now that we are able to offer support before things get bad we anticipate that this initiative will make a real difference to the ability of many farmers and their families and businesses to weather this terrible disease.”
The new service implements a recommendation made by the Bovine TB Eradication Group for England in their 2009 Progress Report that raised the need to provide TB affected farmers with more effective and better focused support and advice.
- Details of how to access the FCN service.
- The Bovine TB Eradication Group for England was established, in November 2008, to make recommendations to the Secretary of State on bovine TB and its eradication. It is made of representatives from the farming industry, veterinary profession, Animal Health and Defra. Their 2009 Progress Report is available.
- The Farm Crisis Network (FCN) is a non-profit making charity providing practical and pastoral help to farmers. In August 2009, the FCN published a report “Stress and Loss - the impact of bovine TB on farming families”.
- A comprehensive and balanced bovine TB eradication programme will be published in early 2011. A consultation on our proposed approach to badger control is currently underway and will close on 8 December.