Farmers are being put off taking part in enhanced measures designed to stamp out TB because the burden of bureaucracy is too much for them to cope with, according to Cheshire NFU county chairman Phil Latham.
Mr Latham, who also sits on the union’s dairy board, called for a wholesale simplification of the administration around TB after receiving 23 letters in one day about his breakdown in February, when 11 reactors were found.
“It is dispiriting”, he said.
“You want to think there is a good system in place, but one of the great problems for encouraging farmers to take on more in terms of the controls which are needed is a lack of faith in the system, and it comes from frustration.
“23 forms came the other day, all in their own envelopes. That must be nearly 100 pieces of paper on my desk.”
For Mr Latham, reading all the paperwork and figuring out what needed responding to urgently was difficult and time consuming enough, but he feared others would find the situation overwhelming.
He said: “My next door neighbour is pushing well into his 80s. What would he do if all that landed on his desk? It is overfacing.
“I know my case vet reasonably well as a friend, so it is easy for me to ring her up, but if you are of a different persuasion or mindset, it is hard to comply.”
Mr Latham was also left exasperated by the lack of communication between Government agencies.
He was shocked to discover, for example, that staff at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) did not have access to the Rural Land Registry (RLR) maps he used to complete his Basic Payment Scheme Application.
“Having a dysfunctional system where APHA are not able to access your maps while doing the temporary land associations is mental”, he said.
“We had to do screenshots of the RLR and email them so they could understand why my fields were different to what they have recorded on their system.”
A Defra spokesman said: “As part of our comprehensive long-term plan to eradicate bovine TB, the new advisory service offers targeted help for famers in the High Risk Area and Edge Area.
“Alongside the extensive advice available through the TB Hub, the APHA offers local-level biosecurity advice to cattle farmers across the country.”