30 June 2000

MAFFto cut EBLmonitoring costs

REDUCED monitoring of enzootic bovine leukosis in England and Wales dairy herds has been proposed by MAFF to lower costs to the dairy industry.

Currently dairy herds must test bulk milk samples every four months and blood test non-milking cattle every two years. But following EU recognition of Great Britain as an EBL free region last July, MAFF has proposed a lighter monitoring scheme in line with EU basic test frequencies.

It now proposes that from April 2001, milk samples will be tested twice in every fifth year, with the tests between four and six months apart. In addition, blood samples will be tested once every four years.

But these blood tests will cause little additional burden and cost to producers, explains MAFF. Sampling and testing can be synchronised with the current two-yearly cycle of brucellosis blood tests.

"We feel that our proposals represent a sensible balance between the need to protect cattle health against re-import of the disease and to minimise financial and bureaucratic burdens on the industry and public," says Baroness Hayman.

The proposal is now undergoing a period of consultation.