The government has announced that until 30 June it will pick up the costs of one TB pre-movement test per English herd owner for cattle aged over 15 months of age and moving out of a 1-2 yearly tested herd in England.

DEFRA has said the decision recognises the wider financial pressure the industry is facing at this time.

These payments will be made under EU state aid agriculture rules, which allow a maximum of €3,000 per business over three years.

Junior DEFRA minister Lord Bach said: “This is an important measure that will help tackle bovine TB.

“Early indications are that the new system is settling in well, but the government wants to ease the transition and ensure that pre-movement testing is a success.

“We recognise that at present there are a number of farmers facing cashflow problems.”

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said:  “This will help to alleviate at least some of the extra financial burden that farmers in the TB areas will have to shoulder as a result of pre-movement testing.

“It will also give DEFRA extra time to issue licenses for exempt fattening units and mean that farmers who may be able to take advantage of them are not penalised in the meantime.

“Farmers are more than ready to play their full part in stopping the hugely damaging spread of bovine TB, but to be worthwhile, pre-movement testing must be part of an overall strategy that includes action to deal with the reservoir of infection in wildlife.”   

The State Veterinary Service should have procedures in place to process these new arrangements from 25 April.