New TB measures

Measures to reduce the risk of bovine TB being spread between cattle are to be strengthened as part of the Government’s plan to eradicate the disease in England.

From July 1, amendments to the rules on cattle movements will come into force, alongside changes to compensation policy, including reduced payments for owners of TB affected herds with overdue tests.

Announcing details of the changes, Farming Minister Jim Paice said: “We need to stop the spread of bovine TB, that last year led to the slaughter of 26,000 cattle and could cost the taxpayer a billion pounds over the next ten years unless action is taken.”

He added: “These strengthened measures, alongside work to pilot badger culling, and the development of badger and cattle vaccines, aim to help control the disease and eventually eradicate it.

“Farmers have shown their commitment to tackle this devastating disease which is taking a terrible toll on their communities and businesses.”

Bovine TB is a devastating disease that in 2011 led to the slaughter of 26,000 cattle, and could cost the taxpayer a billion pounds over the next 10 years unless action is taken, the Government says.

Changes to cattle controls were announced as part of the package of measures to tackle bovine TB in July 2011. The final details of the changes to be introduced on 1 July include:

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•Removing the exemption allowing cattle held on a farm for under 30 days to be moved without being tested, in order to reduce the risk of untested cattle spreading bovine TB when they are moved between different holdings;

•Removing the pre-movement testing exemption for movements within ‘Sole Occupancy Authorities’ that have holdings in high and low risk TB areas;

•Pre-movement testing for cattle moved from higher TB risk herds to agricultural shows where cattle are housed or are held there for more than 24 hours – to reduce the risk of untested cattle, from higher TB risk herds, spreading the disease through close contact with other cattle; and

•Discouraging late testing of cattle for bovine TB to reduce disease spread risks for all cattle, by reducing compensation for owners of TB affected herds if tests are overdue by more than 60 days.

To further reduce the risk of TB spreading, the authorities will be tightening controls around linked premises. Farmers likely to be affected will be contacted.

From July 1, no new Sole Occupancy Authorities will be approved and no new Cattle Tracing System links between holdings in high and low TB risk areas will be approved, with existing links between high and low risk areas being removed on a phased basis.

Mr Paice said: “The farming community has shown it is willing to shoulder its share of the burden to tackle bovine TB. There is already a comprehensive range of robust TB in cattle control measures in place, but we must continuously look for ways to tighten them if we are ever going to get on top of this devastating disease.”

Additional cattle categories are also being introduced to make the TB compensation system more transparent and to remove some anomalies. A new compensation category will be introduced for young pedigree beef animals, and the dairy calved animals category will be split into two age bands.