DEFRA’s TB stance a ‘national disgrace’, says TFA

The suffering farmers face as a result of the government’s inaction over bovine TB is a “national disgrace”, the Tenant Farmers Association has claimed.

Greg Bliss, TFA chairman, said farming families were being left devastated by the government’s decision to allow bovine TB to rage unchecked through the countryside.

While the government and industry had worked together to bring diseases such as foot-and-mouth, bluetongue and avian flu under control, TB had been allowed to spread to an ever-increasing number of farms.

“The government’s inexcusable reluctance to tackle the problem head on and the consequent human suffering that this has caused has been nothing short of a national disgrace,” Mr Bliss said.

“The Welsh Assembly government is at last taking positive action to put in place an eradication plan which, while long overdue, gives hope to Welsh farm families.

“We applaud the bravery of the rural affairs minister and chief vet for breaking ranks with their foot-dragging colleagues in England, who have held them back for long enough.

“We desperately need to hear now from Hilary Benn that he will value more highly the welfare of farm families and their livestock by committing to a comprehensive TB eradication plan.”

Mr Bliss’ comments came as a survey being carried out by Farm Crisis Network revealed bovine TB was putting “huge stress” on farmers whose herds are affected by the disease.

Alan Spedding, the survey’s co-ordinator, said: “Almost everyone interviewed so far is frustrated because they cannot see how biosecurity focused solely on cattle can stem the spread of the disease.

“They are convinced that overpopulation of badgers is at least half the problem and that TB will not be stemmed without their numbers being reduced”.

Paul Burrows, RABI chief executive, said action was urgently needed to stop TB ravaging the countryside and devastating farming families.

“We all need and want a strong future to entice the young into farming with new ideas to take British agriculture forward and to support a sustainable rural economy,” he added.