NFU criticises AHVLA for ‘leaving farmers in dark’ over new TB stocking rules

FARMERS’ leaders have reacted angrily after claiming those in the industry were “left in the dark” over new and complex changes to rules governing livestock movements under TB restrictions.

The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) has confirmed that the policy, which allows farms that have their Officially Tuberculosis Free status withdrawn (OTFW) following a new TB breakdown from restocking their herds until the short interval test is completed, has been changed.

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) President Peter Kendall said farmers will be bitterly disappointed not only because the changes will have serious impacts on some farm business already struggling to cope with a TB breakdown, but that such important changes have been communicated “so badly”.

“I am extremely concerned that such complicated rules are being changed overnight and with such poor communication,” he said. “It is the livestock farmers on the ground that will have to manage their businesses as a result of these changes and I firmly believe that the AHVLA has a duty to communicate effectively on such an important issue to ensure farmers understand the impact it will have.

“The NFU has worked hard to ensure that farm businesses are able to continue working as effectively as possible in what can be very difficult and trying circumstances by making sure that, subject to a veterinary risk assessment and isolation of cattle that have reacted or proven inconclusive to a TB test, that those cattle can still be moved onto a holding. It is vitally important that these businesses are able to continue to operate and that means being able to replace animals lost to TB.

“Having a TB breakdown on farm is already hugely damaging and stressful. While we reluctantly understand that these new rules are necessary in order to gain EU approval for the TB Eradication Plan for England, I have grave concerns that our farmers have been left in the dark over how they are to be implemented.”

The NFU has said it will be meeting with the AHVLA as soon as possible.