Beef Expo visitors quizzed on TB testing plans

Visitors to Beef Expo 2011 were asked to fill out a questionnaire on proposals for farmers to be relieved of TB Tracer testing if they agree to forgo compensation on reactors.

DEFRA and Animal Health are considering proposals put forward by the National Beef Association (NBA), which would put an end to TB Tracer compliance so long as farmers agree to forgo compensation if a reactor was discovered after slaughter.

The proposals under consideration would also require those opting to forgo TB Tracer testing to become Approved Finishing Units (AFUs) with off-movements going direct to slaughter.

NBA director Kim Haywood said: “There will be no compulsion if these new arrangements are agreed. Finishers who calculate that missing out on compensation for post-slaughter reactors is too much to pay for removing the inconvenience of TB Tracer testing can continue as they do at present.

“What has still to be decided is what else, apart from giving up compensation on reactors, may be required of finishers who want to wipe tracer tests off their work programme forever.”

She said Animal Health is keen to gauge industry reaction to a further proposal that would see pre-movement testing be applicable to all cattle movements and not just imposed in one-two year TB testing parishes.

“On top of that it [Animal Health] would like information on farm structures in the beef finishing sector,” she added.

“The NBA wants to be able to go back to Defra before 13 June with accurate information on finishing farm structures as well as a genuine cross-industry sample of opinion on whether it is worth dropping TB Traces testing in exchange for becoming an AFU and agreeing that off-movements can only be direct to slaughter.”