24 May 2002

Ministers appeal in fight against TB

RURAL affairs minister, Alun Michael, has appealed to farmers to help clear the backlog of bovine tuberculosis tests.

During a House of Commons debate on bovine TB, Mr Michael said the growing disease problem was now causing "considerable concerns". He conceded there was evidence to suggest badgers played a role in bovine TB and called on farmers to help cut the backlog in the disease testing programme.

Mr Michael said the number of outstanding tests had fallen to 22,500 from a high of 27,000. But to clear the backlog, testing would have to continue throughout the summer, which would require farmers bringing cattle in from pasture for the tests to take place.

The commons debate was initiated by Bill Wiggin MP (Con, Leominster) who quoted farmers weekly articles on TBs spread in Wales to emphasise its impact on the farming community. "Immediate action is needed because at least three herds a day are succumbing to the disease," said Mr Wiggins.

Colin Breed, LibDem farm spokesman, called for an interim strategy to contain the spread of the disease during the period of the Krebs trial and consequential loss compensation to be paid. &#42