8 March 1996

TB delays cost taxpayers dear

CALLS to speed up the process of dealing with positive bovine tuberculosis reactors in herds were made this week by Liberal Democrat agriculture spokesman Paul Tyler.

Mr Tyler has written to junior farm minister Angela Browning, saying long delays were leading to increased costs for both farmers and taxpayers.

"I have had yet more cases brought to me from farmers, saying outbreaks of TB in their herds are costing them up to £100,000 due to the restrictions on movements and additional costs on feeding and housing."

His comments come as government figures show the cost of employing staff to undertake badger investigations after TB breakdowns in cattle in England will nearly have trebled in the past five years.

Responding to a question from Elliot Morley (Lab, Glanford and Scunthorpe), Mrs Browning said MAFF would be spending £1.48m in the current financial year, compared to just £466,707 in 1991/92.

Mrs Browning said the cost of the recently developed live test for TB in badgers amounted to £536,324 since it was launched in November 1994.

Peter Rudman, NFU animal health and welfare adviser, said the union was continuing to call for an increase in compensation from the current 75% of market value to 100% along with compensation for consequential losses.

Total compensation paid to farmers with cattle affected by TB in 1994/95 came to £1.33m. &#42