10 January 2000
Farmers ‘isolated’ by TB in cattle

By Donald MacPhail

FARMERS are increasingly likely to feel confused and isolated when cattle are diagnosed with bovine tuberculosis, the National Farmers Union has claimed.

Brian Jennings, chairman of the NFUs animal health and welfare committee, said many producers with TB-infected cattle did not know where to turn for help.

He was speaking at the launch of a series of telephone helplines aimed at reassuring farmers that it is possible to cope with the trauma of the disease.

The help-ines, which are staffed by producers whose herds have been placed under restriction because of TB, gives advice to farmers with similar problems.

“Farmers who have experienced for the first time what is becoming an alarmingly common problem often feel isolated and confused,” said Mr Jennings.

“Our advice line network will provide that much-needed reassurance on what to expect from the future when living under the cloud of TB.”

Producers calling the helplines will be advised to contact their NFU regional office and talk with nearby farmers whose circumstances best fit their own.

Eventually, the scheme could cover the entire country. Already it covers the worst-hit TB areas, including the South-west, West Midlands and central regions.

Full details of the telephone helplines are contained in a new booklet published in a joint initiative by the NFU and MAFF on Monday (10 January).

The booklet, Dealing with TB in your Herd, includes advice on how to prevent TB from spreading and the procedures to follow if those measures fail.

It was launched jointly in Gloucestershire by Mr Jennings, NFU deputy president Tim Bennett, and junior agriculture minister Baroness Hayman.

The NFU and the government are both worried by the increase in TB which has surged in many livestock areas free from the disease for the past 50 years.

Last year, a cross-party committee of MPs acknowledged that TB in cattle poses a potentially catastrophic threat to the British farming industry.

Copies of Dealing with TB in your Herd are available from the NFU press office on 020 7331 7397.