Battling Kate calls for interest in TB talks

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BOXSTER the Bull’s spokesperson in the TB debate, his owner’s daughter, Kate McNeil, says Yorkshire farmers need to push themselves to learn more about the disease and the options for controlling it.

Kate will be at an NFU-organised meeting on the subject – open to all – at the Tankersley Manor Hotel, S75 3DQ, from 7.30pm on Wednesday. And she hopes plenty of others will.

Her father, Ken Jackson, lost some of his pedigree Blondes to imported TB at Stubbs Walden, near Doncaster, and their exceptional bull, Boxster, was only saved after the family exposed weaknesses in the Defra testing system.

Fighting the case got Kate interested in the campaign for a rethink of policy and she represented Yorkshire at a recent meeting in Gloucestershire, organised by Nigel Finch, chair of the Conservative Rural Affairs Group, to launch a drive for faster progress towards vaccination for cattle.

Julie Girling, who leads on rural affairs for Conservative members of the European Parliament, left the meeting promising to see if European approvals could be speeded up.

But Mr Finch said farmers had to make clear, to MEPs and to Westminster, that they wanted the vaccination option.

Kate summed up this week: “It has to move from being largely a badger lobby campaign to being a farmers’ campaign.”

After the Gloucestershire meeting, she spent an afternoon at the Yorkshire event in a series of consultations with farmers, about TB, organised by Defra.

“It was disappointing, to be honest,” she said. “They barely mentioned vaccination and farmers in this part of the world just don’t know enough to ask the awkward questions.”

Main theme of the NFU meeting will be how to avoid importing infected stock.

Call Alison Lewis on 01904 451550 or email