23 October 2000
TB Forum set to continue
By FWi staff
A FORUM on bovine tuberculosis looks set to continue, despite the National Farmers Union walking out in protest.
NFU representative Brian Jennings quit last week, branding the forum “a farce” as conservationists would not consider solutions which involved killing badgers.
But in a letter to junior farm minister Baroness Hayman, Dr Elaine King of the National Federation of Badger Groups called for the forum to continue.
She claims the group is the only channel through which the Government can hear from the full spectrum of views of those with an interest in bovine TB.
A Ministry of Agriculture spokeswoman confirmed that following discussions it was hoped the forum could be resumed in the New Year with interested participants.
In her letter Dr King claimed the NFBG only joined the forum on the understanding that it looked at alternatives to badger culling.
And the MAFF spokeswoman confirmed short-term badger culling was not an option while trials, which involve culling badgers to see whether they give cattle TB, continue.
She said: “Culling was outside the remit of the forum and going beyond government policy of waiting for the results of the trials to see if they were effective.
“To conduct culls before that would be to make presumptions without scientific evidence.”
The union wants a holistic approach which includes short-term culling along with testing procedures and market restrictions.
Dr King said the NFBG favoured the latter two measures and called for their immediate implementation.
She also called for the Government to establish new grants to help smaller farms modernise and achieve higher health standards.
According to the NFU, the percentage of UK cattle herds under TB restrictions has risen in the past five years from 1.2% to 2.9%.