Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Badger Culling Will Take Years to Halt Bovine TB

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Badger Culling Will Take Years to Halt Bovine TB

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jennifer Mackenzie

The National Beef Association is pleased that Defra has at last decided to launch a comprehensive attack on bovine TB.

But the group has stressed that even if the tactical culling of badgers is eventually introduced it could still take nine years to halt the disease's forward progress.

By this time, they warn, over 20,000 farms, more than four times the current number, could be under TB2 restriction.

The NBA has also warned that the success of the Government plans to reduce cattle to cattle infection by introducing compulsory pre-movement testing for cattle being transferred from high incidence to low incidence areas will depend on its willingness to assist farmers facing difficult management problems as a result of an unexpected positive test.

"The consequences of further TB spread in both cost and inconvenience to the farmer, taxpayer and government must be avoided and it is obvious that everything possible must be done to minimise future TB damage which is already stripping over pounds 50m a year from the national exchequer and could reach pounds 300m by 2013," said the NBA's TB committee chairman, George Richardson.

"Preventing new cattle to cattle spread into TB-free areas is one way to help and Defra is clear that it would like this done by blocking existing loopholes in the testing programme which allow cattle with TB to be moved off the farm of origin," said Mr Richardson.

"The NBA also wants to slow down TB spread and will look hard at compulsory tests three months before cattle in parishes requiring once a year, or once every two years' testing, are moved into parishes where testing is required only on a three or four-year basis and also the re-testing of these animals within three months of their transfer to their new holding.

"If these actions are adopted they will pull the net more tightly around TB and although 100pc protection against cattle to cattle spread cannot be guaranteed they will at least slow it down to the lowest possible levels - as long as there is full farmer co-operation. …

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