3 October 2000
Tories make TB a high priority

By Isabel Davies in Bournemouth

SHADOW farm minister Tim Yeo has pledged that action on bovine tuberculosis would be given a very high priority by a Tory government.

Addressing a National Farmers Union fringe meeting in the Conservatives Bournemouth conference, Mr Yeo said TB was a severe problem in many areas.

The government had reacted with shocking slowness to the situation he said.

Ministers had failed to implement the Krebs trial in anything like the time necessary, and the problem was now overtaking the country.

Mr Yeo said the power of the badger lobby meant there was enormous anxiety about how to tackle the problem, but he believed that more action should be taken.

“I think we are going to have to be very much more blunt about it. Steps will have to be taken to address the increase in the badger population much more directly.”

NFU deputy president Tim Bennett stressed that TB could not be considered an isolated concern in the south-west.

Mr Bennett said vets were now saying TB was a worse problem than BSE.

David Curry MP, the chair of the agriculture select committee, said the group of MPs was going to come back to the TB issue.

He said they were dissatisfied with the Governments response to their last report.