18 April 1997

…as concern over TB rises

HEREFORD farmers want the next government to curb the spread of TB and ensure beef imports comply with UK rules.

Many are unhappy over the way MAFF has let bovine TB spread from the south-west up through the midlands and into Wales.

Liz Pursey, Trevase Farm, St Owens Cross, has faced movement restrictions on her mixed farm since January because of an outbreak of TB, which has lost her 17 cattle. She strongly believes the next government should introduce a badger culling licence.

"This licence would be open for two months a year during the autumn to help curb the huge number of unhealthy badgers which have been surviving our mild winters."

Mrs Pursey, who runs a 160-head dairy herd plus replacements, 100 beef animals, 600 ewes and rears 84,000 turkeys, has also faced restrictions due to an outbreak of Newcastle disease on a nearby farm. But the speed of vets in tackling the poultry outbreak was in marked contrast with the work surrounding TB testing.

John Francis, Garway Court Farm, Garway, finishes up to 1000 cattle a year and is deeply unhappy at the governments handling of the BSE crisis. Many of his heavier steers before BSE were exported via midlands-based abattoir Duggins, and the over 30-month scheme has forced him to buy younger store cattle and finish them earlier.

Mr Francis is fed up with the dumping of surplus cheap EU beef on the UK market, which, he says, is inferior due to the lack of SBO and MBM regulations in other EU nations.

"Tighter controls must come in. Nobody else has got the same type of SBO and MBM regulations that we have," he said.n