NFU leaders have expressed anger and dismay at indications from DEFRA ministers that the government is determined to press ahead with an extension of pre-movement TB testing to cattle as young as six-weeks-old.

This follows a Ministerial Challenge Panel hearing held in private in London on Tuesday (23 January) at which NFU representatives challenged the extension as being disproportionate.

Deputy president Meurig Raymond said the NFU would be holding urgent consultations with members in the worst affected regions.

“We have made the strongest possible case for this disproportionate measure to be postponed until more compelling evidence of significant benefits can be demonstrated and at this stage we are determined to carry on making the strongest possible representation”, he said.

“Extending pre-movement testing to thousands of younger animals will be hugely costly to farmers in TB areas. 

“It is also dangerous to the farmers and vets involved in carrying out the tests, disruptive to the orderly marketing of store cattle, especially for smaller farmers, and does not address the core problem of the underlying reservoir of infection.

“For some farmers, this decision will be the last straw. Tragically the current course of Government action is increasingly forcing farmers in the worst hit areas out of dairy and beef production.”

NFU president Peter Kendall will be seeking an early meeting with DEFRA secretary David Miliband to discuss the situation.