THE GOVERNMENT has said it needs more producers to take part in its gamma interferon tuberculosis test trials but it cannot pay farmers to join the pilot. 

In response to an environment, food and rural affairs select committee report on bovine TB, DEFRA said it was disappointed at the low level of farmer commitment to the trials.

But while it said it was looking at ways to improve farmer recruitment rates, the potential for providing financial incentives was limited.

“Advisers‘ initial views are that providing financial incentives would breach state aids.”

The government‘s response, published on Wed (Oct 20), said it had tried to publicise the benefits of the study by publishing an article in the Veterinary Record in the summer.

It was also planning to circulate a brief fact sheet this autumn so people could find out more about the trials.

“Other non-financial measures currently being considered include reviewing how the benefits of the pilot are explained to individual farmers and whether more could be done to promote the pilot amongst veterinary professionals.”

The gamma interferon test is believed to be more efficient than the traditional TB test, so could have significant benefits for the farming industry.