The Scottish Government is making a formal application to Brussels to seek Officially Tuberculosis Free (OTF) status for Scottish cattle.

The move comes despite concerns of UK auctioneers and meat wholesalers that traditional cross-border trade in suckled calves and store cattle would be damaged by the need for new rigorous pre-movement testing.

Scotland’s chief vet, Simon Hall, will present evidence during the next meeting of the Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) on 8 September, citing the fact that the number of confirmed TB cases in Scotland has now been at a consistently low level over a sustained number of years.

Mr Hall believes further measures are required to strengthen Scotland’s defence against the disease.

The process is likely to take several months to complete and will not affect the forthcoming autumn store sales. There are also no implications for prime cattle entering Scotland and going straight to abattoirs.

Announcing the move, Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Government’s Secretary for Rural Affairs, said OTF status would be a feather in the cap for Scotch beef producers.

“We are confident we can minimise any potential impact on the industry,” he added.

NFU Scotland vice-president Nigel Miller, said being able to apply for OTF status was a “fantastic achievement” for Scotland.