NFU leader calls for fresh impetus from government to tackle TB

THE GOVERNMENT must implement its 25-year bovine tuberculosis eradication strategy immediately and in full to ensure farmer support for it remains strong, the leader of the National Farmers’ Union said today.

NFU president Meurig Raymond wants more action from government to implement fully its 25-year TB eradication strategy.

Union president Meurig Raymond: “Farmers throughout the country have supported the strategy but are becoming frustrated at the lack of action surrounding the introduction of its various elements.”

More than 230,000 cattle have been slaughtered in Great Britain due to bovine TB since 2008.

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Mr Raymond called for more urgency from the government “in the implementation of the whole strategy and better communication of its measures and aims”.

He added: “Now is the time to build on the determination of the farming industry to eradicate this disease which is destroying farming businesses and families.”

Mr Raymond said different elements of the strategy were urgently needed in different parts of the country and needed to be introduced as a matter of urgency.

“We need appropriate and proportionate measures to keep the disease out of the low risk area of England.

“We need more targeted measures to stop the spread in the edge area - between the high and low risk areas. In particular we need better information on the local infection rate in wildlife in this area.

“And we need further roll-out of the pilot culls in the high risk area. Farmers are committed to playing their part in this but need to see that commitment reciprocated by the government,” Mr Raymond said.

Mr Raymond’s comments follow an earlier plea by Chris Mallon, the National Beef Association’s chief exective, who told The Yorkshire Post when the second round of pilot badger culls to combat the disease in Somerset and Gloucestershire began in September, that the Government’s Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme area did not go far enough.

Mr Mallon said: “We believe there should be a corridor of vaccination in South Yorkshire and South Lancashire. Vaccination needs to be in the clear areas to stop the spread of TB.”

At that time a Defra spokesperson said it had measures in place to protect South Yorkshire.

“In areas like South Yorkshire and South Lancashire, which have very little TB, we are continuing to tighten cattle control measures and urging farmers to practise risk-based trading to halt TB spreading between herds.”