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Nightmare TB breakdown costs farmer over £100,000

The Tenant Farmers’ Association has highlighted the inadequacy of English TB compensation after one of its members lost more than £100,000 to a single breakdown.



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Nightmare TB breakdown costs farmer over £100,000

Mark Peters, a livestock farmer from Lewes in East Sussex, had a holding placed under TB restrictions in November 2016 when one of his animals was found to have a suspicious lung at an abattoir in Guildford.

 

Mr Peters ended up having several TB tests on his cattle – including one when many of the cows were out to grass, making the process more difficult.

 

He also carried out a test on 110 cattle on a separate holding with a view to selling the animals after the shutdown left him with severe cashflow problems.

 

Borrowing earmarked for buying new animals ended up being used to feed existing stock, with additional feed bought in.

 

The increased stocking density also left cattle more vulnerable to health issues, forcing Mr Peters to pay for antibiotics and buy in straw.

 

TFA chief executive George Dunn said: “Although farmers receive some compensation towards the value of any animals which have to be slaughtered as a result of contracting bovine TB, this represents a very small proportion of the total losses suffered by a farmer in these circumstances.

 

“The TFA has argued consistently that the consequential losses to the farm business far outweigh the compensation provided by Government for the value of animals slaughtered.”


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Total cost to Mr Peters’ business

  • First TB test (16 full-time days at £100 per day) = £1,600
  • Second TB test (16 full-time days at £100 per day) = £1,600
  • Third TB test (20 full-time days at £100 per day) = £2,000
  • Additional labour to manage additional stock - 22 weeks = £8,000
  • Additional vaccine and antibiotics for calves = £11,200
  • Bought in barley (270t at £120/t) = £32,400
  • Other bought in feed pellets = £38,000
  • Bought in straw = £7,000

Total = £101,800


 

Mr Dunn added: “The TFA believes more action needs to be taken to control this disease given both the financial and emotional cost suffered by farmers whose herds are subjected to this terrible disease.

 

“Ultimately, a cattle vaccination must be found, but this option remains only a distant possibility.

 

“While we wait for sufficient scientific developments to provide a vaccine, we need to use all the tools available to us which includes cattle movement controls, effective surveillance and dealing with all disease sources including infected wildlife.”

 

Farmers Guardian has approached Defra for comment.

How is TB compensation calculated in England?

Defra’s system takes into account an animal’s pedigree status, type, age and sex.

  • There are 51 categories for domestic cattle in Defra’s system.
  • Values are the open market average price for the same category of cattle, based on information for around 1.4m animals collected each year. If insufficient sales data is collected for a particular category, a previously determined table valuation is used or value is determined by a one-off valuation.
  • As the compensation value is based on market value, using the latest sales data, prices will fluctuate.
  • Compensation payments may be reduced if the affected herd’s TB test is overdue.

How is TB compensation calculated in Wales?

The Welsh Government appoints a valuer who determines the market value of the animal. Ordinarily this will be the amount of compensation paid, taking in to account that:

  • The salvage value of the animal will be paid if it is more than the market value
  • The highest amount of compensation paid for an animal is £5,000

If TB rules have not been followed, the amount of compensation may be reduced by up to 95 per cent.

How is TB compensation calculated in Scotland?

Compensation is currently paid at full market value to the owner of any animal slaughtered because of TB, including animals which have moved on to a restricted herd and go on to become TB reactors.

 

The Tuberculosis (Scotland) Order 2007 as it stands does not allow for compensation to be reduced or withheld where the owner/keeper has acted both irresponsibly and illegally and moved cattle onto an infected premises without a licence permitting him to do so.

 

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on changes to reduce or withhold compensation completely for those owners who break TB rules.

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