Today there is widespread media coverage on Defra’s publication of the next stages of its strategy to tackle the damaging animal disease bovine TB.
This was covered widely included by the Guardian, the Telegraph, Sky News, Times, Daily Mirror, the i, Daily Mail and BBC News. The announcement was also discussed on BBC Radio 4’s Today and Farming Today programme’s this morning.
This came as the government responded to an independent review of its 25 year bTB strategy for England, led by Professor Sir Charles Godfray.
Much of the coverage focussed on badger culling with the response setting out an intention to begin to phase out intensive badger culling. There is also analysis of other tools to tackle the disease such as the development of a cattle vaccination, improved testing to intercept the disease earlier and increased badger vaccination.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said:
Bovine TB is a slow-moving and insidious disease leading to the slaughter of over 30,000 cattle every year and considerable trauma for farmers as they suffer the loss of highly prized animals and valued herds.
“The badger cull has led to a significant reduction in the disease as demonstrated by recent academic research and past studies. But no one wants to continue the cull of this protected species indefinitely so, once the weight of disease in wildlife has been addressed, we will accelerate other elements of our strategy including improved diagnostics and cattle vaccination to sustain the downward trajectory of the disease.
UK Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said:
This ground-breaking research carried out by APHA has enabled us to embark on the first step of the field trials required to license the cattle vaccine and test it.
“Whilst there is no single way to combat this damaging and complex disease, cattle vaccination will be a new tool for our multi-pronged approach to tackle it and importantly prevent it, providing vital support to our farming communities.
“Bovine TB presents a global challenge and the UK can harness its world-leading science to develop solutions such as vaccination that could also be valuable to other countries.
Further information is available here.