Movement rule changes to help TB-hit farms

Livestock farmers under TB restriction will be able to move cattle more easily under new measures introduced this week.

In a bid to make life easier for farmers living with TB, Animal Health has relaxed movement licences for those in low-risk situations. “We are moving to a more simple process,” said Ben Bennett, divisional veterinary officer at Exeter’s Animal Health office.

Instead of requiring individual licences for cattle being brought into restricted herds, farmers can now apply for a general licence.

Unless the disease status of the herd declines, or the herd misses a TB test deadline, the licence can remain in place for the duration of TB restriction.

In addition, farmers will be allowed to move cattle longer distances between restricted premises, lifting the blanket ban on movement beyond neighbouring counties. “This will enhance the ability of farmers to source cattle,” said Mr Bennett. Producers in Cornwall, for example, had been restricted to moving cattle in or out of Devon, but would now be able to bring in cattle from further afield and make use of designated finishing units to ease overstocking.

However, all new licences would be subject to veterinary risk assessments, and would only be granted in low-risk situations, Mr Bennett said. “The options will not be available to every farm on every occasion. But this is an opportunity to help the farmer forward.”

The agency was also planning to introduce Disease Report Form visits, where Animal Health officers would visit farms within two weeks of new TB breakdowns. Not only would this aid in the gathering of information, but it would also be a practical service to help farmers understand movement licences and other regulations, he added.

Meurig Raymond, deputy NFU president, welcomed the measures. “I genuinely believe the movement licences will help a lot of farmers to keep their cash flow going, which is so important,” he said.