The UK farming and veterinary sectors have submitted a joint proposal to Government outlining a new approach to bovine TB control and non-statutory cattle diseases in England.
According to NFU deputy president Minette Batters, the proposals represent a unified front across the sector, seeking a stronger leadership role from industry in addressing disease with support from Government.
She said the proposal had three strands:
The document was signed by NFU, RABDF, LAA, NBA FFA, CLA, BVA, BCVA and industry-Government Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG).
Speaking at the Livestock Event, in Birmingham, Mrs Batters said there was currently a ‘huge problem’ with the communication of the TB strategy across England’s three risk zones, which ‘all want different things’.
Last week, she warned that farmers across all three TB regions were becoming disillusioned with the lack of progress in implementing the strategy, after Defra postponed a consultation on additional cattle controls.
The industry bodies believe an eradication board, with strong industry representation, would do a better job in delivering the strategy and making it clear to farmers what was expected of them and the reasons for the various regionalised TB controls.
The national TB knowledge hub was ‘desperately needed’, Mrs Batters added. “In many areas, the process is becoming more crippling than the disease, so being able to source the right information and get help for a breakdown is essential,” she said.
Mrs Batters said Ireland and Scotland were using their success in tackling non-statutory diseases like BVD to promote the wellbeing of their industry. “So we need something similar in the form of Animal Health England. We have to be on the ladder as a united industry, with Government acting as a facilitator,” she said.
RABDF chairman Ian Macalpine used his appearance at the Livestock Event to explain why the association was supporting the proposal. He said ‘swift and decisive action’ was needed on TB.
“TB is continuing to ravage our industry; nine million cattle were tested for TB last year, while 4,692 new outbreaks were confirmed of which an estimated 50 per cent are attributed to badgers in TB hotspots,” he said.
“This government was re-elected committing itself to tackling TB and continuing with its 25 year eradication strategy.
“However, Defra’s silence is deafening and progress is snail pace.
“We have farmers in the affected areas desperate and ready to extend the badger cull and farmers in the clean area ready to take on post movement testing of cattle, to keep their area clean, for which we have been asking for nearly two years.
“RABDF, together with other livestock organisations and vets, put a proposal to Government yesterday on how to handle animal health.
This involves all working together and having the commitment to the 25 year TB eradication plan. If the strategy has any chance of success then swift and decisive action needs to be taken in the early years.”