Joint ownership needed for TB eradication strategy

Joint ownership needed for TB eradication strategy

The Government’s TB eradication strategy should herald a fresh start in managing animal diseases with farmers having a much greater input into TB control policy, the NFU said today.

NFU President Peter Kendall said: “Owen Paterson committed to publishing a TB eradication strategy at NFU Conference in February and the publication of this document today is very significant for all cattle farmers. On balance, we think it is an ambitious and comprehensive package to deal with this terrible disease which is devastating the lives of tens of thousands of farmers and their families, and destroying farming businesses, every year.

“The strategy reflects the fact that a full range of cattle and wildlife measures will be needed. It also recognises the importance of a risk-based approach that puts the ability to trade responsibly at the heart of cattle controls to minimise risks of disease transmission while allowing businesses to continue to operate.

“The Government’s commitment to roll out a badger control programme to other TB High Risk areas after the successful completion of this year’s pilot trials is vital and welcomed by the farming industry. Delivering on this is absolutely critical if we are to eradicate TB in cattle and badgers.

“For the Government’s strategy to succeed, it has to take the industry – farmers and vets – along with it. In England, the pilot culls show that farmers are prepared to contribute towards elements of a disease control package, where they can see a clear value from the contribution they make in terms of reducing levels of TB.

“We need to work with Government and farmers to look at how delivery of badger control from next year can be best delivered. Farmers will also want to see that Government has done everything it can to make current TB controls cost effective by addressing, for example, the costs of administration.

“But above all, I call on the Government to use this strategy to look at adopting a new governance model where farmers have a much bigger say in disease control policy. The strategy highlights the success in New Zealand where government and farmers have joint ownership of the plans to tackle bovine TB. Farmers have a much bigger say on the disease policy and they have seen a massive impact on TB as a result. New and innovative thinking is required with this most challenging of animal diseases.”

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