DEFRA is ‘on course’ to meet it targets for the control of bovine TB, according to the 2008 Departmental Report.

Farmers are increasingly concerned about the spread of the disease which between the 1 Jan and 31 March 2008 led to the destruction of about 10,000 cattle and has left 7881 herds under movement restrictions.

But the document, published on Tuesday 20 May, shows that DEFRA “expects to meet the 2008 target of limiting the spread of bovine TB to areas currently free from disease.”

The department says it has a Public Sector Agreement target which is to improve the health and welfare of kept animals, and protect society from the impact of animal diseases, through sharing the management of risk with industry.

Confirmed new incidents

As part of this its aim is to reduce the spread of the disease to new parishes to below the incremental trend of 17.5 confirmed new incidents per annum by the end of 2008.

However it adds: “Bovine TB nevertheless remains a significant problem for the farming industry in those areas of the country where the disease is prevalent.”

The 230 page report also suggests that there has been a substantial improvement in the performance of Rural Payments Agency which achieved the first of its 2007 Single Payments Scheme (SPS) targets some five weeks ahead of schedule.

Improvements needed

It acknowledges that improvements must continue to ensure that customers consistently receive the level of service they have a right to expect.

“Reflecting on the events of last year, we’ve shown that we are getting the basics right, with progress in the Rural Payments Agency on single farm payments, the tremendous efforts of the Department, Environment Agency and other services’ staff during the summer floods, and the professional response to animal disease outbreaks,” said DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn.

“I’d like to thank all the staff involved for their dedication and hard work.”

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