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UK: TB is on decrease but ‘still big issue’, says NFU

16:00 23 March 2014

TB is still a massive problem, says the NFU, despite the numbers of cattle affected falling. It supported a controversial cull of badgers, which have been blamed for spreading the disease.

TB is still a massive problem, says the NFU, despite the numbers of cattle affected falling. It supported a controversial cull of badgers, which have been blamed for spreading the disease.

Statistics released by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on bovine TB show a “mixed” picture, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) says. There were 4,815 new herd incidents in Britain in 2013, compared to 5,153 in 2012. The number of cattle slaughtered in 2013 was 32,620, compared to 37,734 in 2012.

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NFU deputy president Minette Batters said the figures showed the disease remains “a massive problem”.

“While it is good news that fewer new herds went down with bTB last year and fewer cattle were slaughtered than in 2012, the figures show that the disease remains a massive problem for beef and dairy farmers,” she said.

“A drop in the figures is welcome but there are often fluctuations in long-term diseases like this. Bovine Tb continues to devastate farming family businesses and it is vital that action is taken on all fronts to control and eradicate it.

“We have always said that we need to use every tool available to tackle bTB. Farmers are continuing to play their part in tackling the disease through strengthened cattle movement controls, stringent cattle testing, and by improving biosecurity on-farm.

“Vaccination of both cattle and badgers when it is available and practical also has a key role to play. But unless the reservoir of disease in wildlife is tackled in areas where bTB is rife farmers will continue to fight a losing battle against this disease.”

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