The NFU is preparing for a crucial meeting which it is hoping will stop the government introducing pre-movement testing for bovine tuberculosis for cattle over 42 days from 1 March.

The union will appear before what is known as a Ministerial Challenge Panel on 23 January to argue that DEFRA plans to extend pre-movement testing to cattle under 15 months are flawed and should be rejected.

Meurig Raymond, NFU deputy president, told NFU Council on Tuesday (16 January) that the meeting gave the union the chance to challenge the evidence being put forward by DEFRA to justify extra testing.

“Government ministers, the policy unit and the chief veterinary officer are determined to bring in phase two of pre-movement testing on 1 March.

“But we are challenging the figure included in their cost-benefit analysis vigorously as we are determined to make the case on behalf of the farming industry.”

Mr Raymond said the union would be arguing that in isolation pre-movement testing would not reduce TB and there needed to be a package of measures. It would also challenge the government’s claim that the cost of testing would be £7/animal.

Meanwhile, Devon farmer Richard Haddock is calling for a buy-up scheme to help suckler cow producers hit by TB.

Mr Haddock said that store farmers in the south west were being starved out of business because their cashflow was coming to a halt when they were put under restriction.

“With no disrespect, in the dairy industry, if someone goes down with TB they can still sell their milk and have cash flow.

“If you have a suckler herd, but do not finish cattle, then you have no cash flow at all,” he said.

“We must get introduced a scheme which enables suckler men to get their stock bought up by the government at market value.

“This gives the farmer control over his business again if he wants to get out of breeding and away from the TB problem.”