Chairman of the Animal Health and Welfare Board Michael Seals spells out how farmers can help in the battle against bovine TB.
As we are all too aware, bovine TB is having devastating impact on the food and farming industry. It forced the slaughter of 26,000 cattle in 2011. Tough rules on cattle movements have helped reduce the risk of spreading the disease, not to mention the prevention work applied by farmers every day. However, at the combined cost of £34,000 on average for every new outbreak, it is an expense neither the industry nor government can afford. It is only by working together that we can eradicate this terrible disease, which cost taxpayers £90m in 2010/11 alone.
"We'll have far more success if the industry is involved in designing and using new weapons in the war on bovine TB."
The Animal Health and Welfare Board for England, (AHWBE) of which I am chairman, is an independent board of experts including farmers, veterinarians and welfare experts who make direct recommendations to DEFRA ministers on government policy. In a completely new way of working, the board is touring the country visiting Exeter, York, West Sussex and Shropshire, to talk directly to farmers and vets about ideas for eradicating TB. You can find out more and sign up to attend the events on DEFRA's website.
We want to hear your views on the following:
- What measures do you want to see put in place to reduce the spread of TB?
- Could the government and industry do more to crack down on practices that risk the spread of TB, and how do you think we could do this?
- How much responsibility should the government have for TB testing and compensation?
- How much responsibility should the industry have for TB testing and compensation?
- If you could make one change to the way TB is managed by the government, what would it be?
Please give us your opinion by sending your answers to the questions below to: AHWBE (Bovine TB Call for Views), Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR
I'm looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible over the next few weeks. Yes, we already have rules aimed at reducing cattle to cattle transmission. Yes, DEFRA is investing in research on a workable vaccine. Yes, a pilot cull of badgers is planned for the autumn. But taken individually these measures will not be enough to halt the spread of TB. They need to be applied together, and we need your input to discover what else can be done.
So please, come along to one of the sessions if you can and give us your ideas. We'll have far more success if the industry is involved in designing and using new weapons in the war on bovine TB.
If you can't make it to one of the meetings, you can still tell us what you think by completing an AHWBE survey which will gather vital information from farmers and vets that can feed into the government's TB eradication policy. The survey should take no more than 30 minutes to complete, will be entirely confidential, and every recommendation will be carefully considered by the board.
You can make your voice heard by filling out the survey online.
Alternatively, you can answer the questions below and write to the board by 19 October. This is a new phase in the battle to eradicate this terrible disease, we have to stop the spread and then work to eliminate this disease that has for far too long blighted our cattle farmers. There will be new challenges for all of us, which will mean changing what we do and the way we do it.
But I'm confident that together we'll be able to generate a wealth of new ideas to add to the existing measures to combat TB. I look forward to talking to you.
Michael Seals MBE
Chairman, Animal Health and Welfare Board for England
More on this topic
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