Tougher measures to tackle bovine TB risk

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A PACKAGE of new measures designed to reduce the risk of bovine TB being spread between cattle will take effect from this summer, as the Government seeks to bring the disease under control.

As of July 1, amendments to the rules on cattle movements will come into force meaning additional requirements on testing before animals are moved.

Changes to the current compensation policy will also be made, with reduced payments for owners of TB affected herds with overdue tests. Compensation for owners of TB affected herds will be reduced if tests are overdue by more than 60 days.

Currently, cattle held on a farm for under 30 days are allowed to be moved without the need for testing but this exemption will now be removed.

Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said: “We need to stop the spread of bovine TB, that last year led to the slaughter of 26,000 cattle and could cost the taxpayer a billion pounds over the next ten years unless action is taken.

“These strengthened measures, alongside work to pilot badger culling, and the development of badger and cattle vaccines, aim to help control the disease and eventually eradicate it.

“Farmers have shown their commitment to tackle this devastating disease which is taking a terrible toll on their communities and businesses.”

Pre-movement testing will also be required for cattle moved from higher TB risk herds to agricultural shows where cattle are housed or are held there for more than 24 hours – to reduce the risk of untested cattle, from higher TB risk herds, spreading the disease through close contact with other cattle.

Mr Paice added: “The farming community has shown it is willing to shoulder its share of the burden to tackle bovine TB. There is already a comprehensive range of robust TB in cattle control measures in place, but we must continuously look for ways to tighten them if we are ever going to get on top of this devastating disease.”

It has also been announced that additional cattle categories are being introduced to make the TB compensation system more transparent and to remove some anomalies.

Also a new compensation category will be introduced for young pedigree beef animals, and the dairy calved animals category will be split into two age bands.

The National Beef Association encouraged its members to judge potential business impacts now, rather than waiting until the summer.

Bill Harper, of the NBA, told the Yorkshire Post: “The news rules cover a wide range of issues and are really going to hurt some businesses.

“But unlike the changes to the restocking rules in late January, these have been announced in advance and at least farmers have a window of opportunity to prepare themselves and make changes.”