NFU lays down challenge to DEFRA over bovine TB

DEFRA is under renewed pressure to resume preparations for a badger cull after the latest statistics reveal that the incidence of bovine tuberculosis is on the increase again.

The NFU reports that During the five-month period from May to September this year the level of new herd breakdowns increased by 13% on the same period last year. 

The NFU is now calling for DEFRA to resume preparations for a cull of badgers in heavily infected areas.

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said: “Sadly it is looking more and more as if the apparent decline in cases of TB in the first few months of the year was more of statistical glitch than a genuine turning of the tide.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the underlying trend is as worrying as ever.  In the light of that, the government cannot afford to prevaricate any longer over tackling the reservoir of disease in wildlife.”

The NFU has also been rewarded for its constant criticism of pre-movement testing

Ministers at DEFRA have agreed to the NFU’s plea that the planned introduction of pre-movement testing for all cattle over 42-days, due to be introduced in March 2007, should be referred to DEFRA’s Ministerial Challenge Panel on Regulation.

Jan Rowe, the NFU’s TB spokesman said:  “This is extremely good news and follows months of campaigning by the NFU.  The review will give us a rare opportunity to set out formally our very real concerns about this scheme and about extending it.”

“Pre-movement testing is imposing a huge penalty on farmers and picking up so few animals that we firmly believe the costs far outweigh the benefits.”

“Investment by DEFRA in an efficient tracing system would be far more effective,” said Mr Rowe.