19 January 2001
Government boost to TB testing

by Isabel Davies

THE government is to increase tuberculosis testing of cattle and improve husbandry advice to farmers in a bid to control the disease.

The Ministry of Agriculture will bring forward TB tests in parts of the country where herds are not already tested annually.

It will consult on a move to make bovine TB reportable in all mammals and clarify when herd restrictions apply in conjunction with TB testing.

In response to an independent TB Husbandry Panel report, the government also said it intended to update its advice on husbandry practices to farmers.

This will involve looking at the best way to make that advice available and ways to encourage farmers to act on it.

Junior agriculture minister Baroness Hayman said the governments TB strategy had been wrongly portrayed as being about the Krebs badger culling trial.

“It is vital that we address the cattle TB problem on all fronts.”

Badger groups welcomed the announcement, but farmers stressed the new measures will not solve the rising incidence of TB in cattle.

Dr Elaine King, conservation officer for the National Federation of Badger Groups, said the moves would help slow down the current spread of the disease.

“We have been arguing for several years that the solution to bovine TB is to ensure cattle are less susceptible to the diseases.”

But an NFU spokeswoman said the limited measures would only help curb the disease in a certain number of cases.

“The NFU will continue to press for further significant action to be initiated by government outside the 10 designated Krebs trial areas.”