JUNE 10, 2008: The NFU has today urged Government to demonstrate its capability indealing with the ongoing problem of bovine TB and regain the dwindlingconfidence of the farming community.
Four months have passed since the Efra committee called for a ‘multifaceted approach to bring TB under control’ but there is no more light at the end of the tunnel for the thousands of farmers who have lost valuable herds to the disease. Last year TB outbreaks exceeded 4,000 for the first time in modern times resulting in the slaughter of more than 28,000 cattle.Speaking at the Royal Cornwall Show, Deputy President Meurig Raymond called for Government to take action and ‘not try and wash its hands of the problem’.He said: “We are no further on with an eradication plan despite the conclusions made by the Efra select committee’s chairman Michael Jack that the Government’s TB policy is not working, evidenced by the number of cattle being slaughtered doubling every four to five years.”This same committee also reported the tabular valuations for slaughtered cattle are unfair and called for a review but still we are waiting for Government to come and talk to us.”Mr Raymond also called for reassurance on the gamma interferon blood test welcomed by the NFU as an additional tool for identifying disease in cattle.”The bizarre results being thrown up by the test, with perverse numbers of animals showing up as reactors, merit urgent investigation by the Government, he said. “Again, I would urge Defra to bring us, and the scientific experts, to the table to discuss how to address the test’s lack of credibility on the ground.”We need to work together to re-build confidence and deal with the reservoir of disease that has been identified in wildlife,” he said. “Other countries have successful eradication plans – our Government should want one too. This on-going problem is costing tax-payers money and we want to see that money better spent.”A multifaceted approach including tackling TB in wildlife and effective cattle measures is a must for the long-term eradication of bTB. In the medium to long-term vaccination of badgers must be part of that approach. This will mean we will able to protect healthy cattle and wildlife but in the meantime we need to act. Doing nothing is not an option.”I would urge Ministers to get behind an eradication plan and get behind the farming community. Only by talking can we work out a way of removing this pernicious disease from our countryside before we see not only cattle but livelihoods destroyed.”