NFU leaders are to meet government officials amid growing frustration that livestock farmers cannot choose which vet to use when testing cattle for bovine TB.
The government awarded its TB testing contract to XL Farmcare companies in each of five different English regions last year. Rather than use their local vet, farmers must now contact their local XL Farmcare company to arrange their TB tests.
NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said the union had raised concerns with Defra that all five contracts had been awarded to XL.
The NFU had been told farmers would still be able to use their own vets – but permission had failed to materialise.
“Our members feel they are being treated unfairly,” Mr Sercombe told NFU Council. NFU deputy president Minette Batters said she and NFU policy director Andrew Clark would again raise the issue with the government’s chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens and Animal & Plant Health director Peter Lee at a meeting scheduled for early August.
Bridget Taylor, chairwoman of XL Farmcare North, told Farmers Weekly the five XL Farmcare regional companies continued to embrace farmer choice and maintain the link between local veterinary practice and farmers where it was possible to do so.
Some veterinary practices that applied to deliver TB testing on behalf of XL were unsuccessful, but the company was willing to discuss the situation with farmers who wanted to use a different vet.