23 March 2000
Government ‘dithering’ over TB cull

By FWi staff

THE government has come under fire again over the handling of its badger cull, designed to prove whether the animals pass tuberculosis to cattle.

James Paice, Tory MP for Cambridgeshire South-East, said the governments response to the Krebs report, which recommended the cull, had been inadequate.

During a visit to Cheshire farms affected by bovine TB, he accused ministers of being woefully slow and abdicating their responsibilities for animal health.

TB is a huge cost to dairy and beef producers – estimated by the NFU to be 18,000 for a herd breakdown – which can finally drive them out of business.

“When Krebs reported in December 1997, he said the studies should be initiated within four months,” said Mr Paice.

“Yet some 28 months later, only three of the 10 triplet areas have actually started culling.”

Mr Paice predicted that it will be at least another four years before any studies are completed, during which time the disease will continue to spread.

The NFU expects at least 50% of outbreaks to be outside the study areas, he added.

“It is time the government stopped dithering and grasped the issue.”

Mr Paice said the government should compensate farmers for consequential losses arising from a TB outbreak.

He also called for an immediate review of the governments Movement Restriction rules which regulate the movement of cattle from infected farms.

“The frequency of TB testing should be changed, instead of three or four yearly testing it should be done annually in those frontier counties, such as Cheshire, Derbyshire and Shropshire, where the disease is spreading,” he added.

“Ministers have said that this is second only to BSE as an issue.

“Yet, judging from their abysmal performance to date, it seems that they are too paralysed to do anything about it.”