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Leader: We need a suite of measures, not a bovine TB blame game

How to tackle a problem like bovine TB?

 

It is a question successive governments have tried and failed to answer and, as time goes on, the cost to the farming industry and the taxpayer continues to mount.


Olivia   Midgley

Olivia   Midgley

An emotive and highly contentious issue, it has been exacerbated by a fiercely fought battle between industry and wildlife campaigners, often with farmers left caught in the crossfire.

 

And the politicisation of the debate, as highlighted in Charles Godfray’s review of the Government’s 25-year strategy published this week, has actually deflected from the issue at large.

 

A dangerous game when lives and livelihoods are being put at stake.

 

It would be just as dangerous to demonise farmers and blame movements of cattle alone for the spread of bovine TB.


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Yes, cattle-to-cattle contact contributes to disease spread, but so too does badger-to-cattle contact.

 

And now here, in black and white, another high-ranking, independent review has concluded ‘the presence of infected badgers does pose a threat to local cattle herds’, making badger culling an essential part of any strategy.

 

While parts of it may make uncomfortable reading, the document does paint a fair assessment of the current state of play.

 

It does not tell us anything we do not already know, but serves to highlight the stumbling blocks and how they might be overcome.

 

However, we must be careful not to increase the bureaucracy placed on farmers in the introduction of using new governance and cattle controls.

And while the impending launch of the new Livestock Information Service will help farmers make more informed decisions when trading cattle, it is by no means a silver bullet.

 

We need a suite of measures, which includes cattle testing, cattle movement controls, on-farm biosecurity, vaccination and control of the disease reservoir in wildlife.

 

Combine these together effectively and we may just catch up with our overseas counterparts and get a handle on this terrible disease.

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