Badger Trust welcomes new cattle measures

Badger Trust welcomes renewed focus on cattle measures to lower bovine TB 


The Badger Trust has welcomed new cattle measures introduced by the Government aimed at reducing the spread of bovine TB.


From the 6th April 2016 onwards, new legislation will require farmers in the Low TB Risk Area of England to arrange for post-movement testing of cattle coming from the rest of England and Wales.


All herds in the High Risk Area of England affected by a new TB breakdown, will now need to pass two strict tests before movement restrictions are lifted. This will increase the chances of finding all TB infected cattle and reduce recurrent breakdowns.


The Government is also funding free pre-sale TB tests to any herd owner in the Low Risk Areas, selling twenty or more cattle in a single purchase. This is aimed at providing additional assurance for buyers and to mitigate the risk of undetected TB cattle spreading the disease to new herds.


The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will also start offering farmers the option of private Interferon Gamma blood tests, to diagnose TB under certain conditions subject to prior approval from the APHA.


Commenting on the new cattle measures the CEO of the Badger Trust, Dominic Dyer said:


"For the past 5 years we have been telling the Government to stop playing the badger blame game and focus on the real cause of the spread of bovine TB, which is cattle. We therefore welcome these new cattle measures aimed at reducing the risk of moving diseased cattle around the country, but they do not go far enough. So far the Government has wasted over £25 million of public money killing mostly TB free badgers, in a culling policy which is failing on both scientific and humaneness grounds. This figure could rapidly rise to over £100 million over the next 5 years, if badger culling is extended to new areas of the country.

The money being wasted on badger culling should be diverted to providing farmers with free access to Interferon Gamma blood tests. As well as funding more effective gates and fences on farms to prevent interaction between wildlife and cattle, also to introduce an annual TB testing system across all of England, as is currently in place in Wales.

Unlike badger culling, these cattle measures have been proven to significantly reduce bovine TB and offer a far better return on the use of public funds, for both the tax payer and the farmer."


Commenting on the response from the farming industry to the new cattle measures, the Chair of the Badger Trust, Peter Martin said:


"We are very disappointed to see the farming lobby is calling into question the need for such control measures, in view of their impact on cattle trading. If they are serious about tackling the social and economic burden of bovine TB, the farming industry must accept that killing badgers is a dangerous distraction from dealing with the spread of the disease in cattle. The vast body of scientific research has yet to identify a clear badger-to cattle infection path and other peer reviewed studies have shown that badgers avoid pasture and farm buildings containing cattle. In the absence of proper scientific information and perhaps an inherent unwillingness to blame themselves or their cattle, farmers are blaming badgers instead."