Bovine TB is out of control – Tories

The problem of bovine tuberculosis is now so bad it is out of control across much of England, the Conservative party has warned.

In 2008 39,247 animals were slaughtered because of the disease, figures released by DEFRA show.

Shadow farm minister Jim Paice said bovine TB had now cost taxpayers £657m since Labour came to power in 1997. Yet the disease continued to spread.

Mr Paice said: “This is a disease out of control and a government which is clueless about how to tackle it.”

In the past year alone, the number of animals slaughtered had increased by 40%, taking the total to over 200,000 since 1997.

The number of counties affected by bovine TB had risen from 12 to 32 under Labour, said Mr Paice.

“Bovine TB is spreading from county to county at enormous cost to both farmers and taxpayers, who are ultimately footing the bill.”

Unless immediate action was taken, every county could be infected within five years and the number of cattle slaughtered could easily exceed 50,000 a year.

“Dairy farmers in many parts of the country live in constant fear that their herds will be the next to test positive,” Mr Paice said.

“Bloodlines dating back generations and dairy farms in families for decades are simply being wiped out.”

“If the government wants a productive farming industry it must stop dithering while 40,000 cattle and rising are lost each year to bovine TB.”