18 February 2000

MAFFtold not to drag heels on TB

THE government has been told it must get on with the implementation of its badger culling trial and make sure other parts of its TB programme are fully in place.

Speaking at a debate on badgers and bovine TB last week acting chairman of the agriculture select committee Austin Mitchell MP expressed his disappointment that many of the recommendations included in their Apr 99 report had not been implemented.

The report backed the governments mass badger cull to establish whether the animals pass the disease to cattle.

But it called for other potential methods of reducing TB in cattle to be examined, and slammed the way MAFF officials are overseeing the cull.

"Herd breakdown is a problem that is galloping ahead of us, and the ministry must catch up quickly," said Mr Mitchell.

Responding, junior farm minister Elliot Morley agreed that the situation was serious. "Bovine TB is one of the biggest problems we face, perhaps the biggest problem after BSE," he said.