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Consultation launched on bovine TB eradication strategy

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Photograph of two cows grazing in a field.
Credit: Getty Images

There is widespread coverage today following yesterday’s launch of a public consultation on the next phase of the Government’s strategy to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in England by 2038. The story was covered in the Daily Telegraph, the Times, Daily Mirror, The Guardian, Yorkshire Post, Western Morning News, Farmers Weekly, Farming UK and Dorset Echo

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss was also interviewed by BBC Farming Today about the consultation.

The eight-week consultation seeks views on a range of plans following the Government’s response to an independent review of its 25 year bTB strategy, led by Professor Sir Charles Godfray.

These include a proposal to end issuing intensive cull licences for new areas after 2022 and would enable new licences to be cut short after two or three years based on a review of the latest scientific evidence at that time.

Under the new plans, any new supplementary cull licences - which are granted in regions after intensive culls are complete - would be restricted to two years and would not be reissued afterwards. The Government will also be seeking to accelerate the deployment of a cattle vaccine and to support badger vaccination in areas that have completed culls as an alternative to supplementary culling.

The Government is also calling for views on possible future measures to accelerate bTB eradication in England, such as further improvements to testing, encouraging increased uptake of farm biosecurity measures and supporting responsible cattle movements.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

Bovine TB is a slow-moving and insidious disease that causes devastation for farmers as they suffer the loss of highly prized animals and valued herds.

Our badger control policy has helped to turn the tide on this disease but no wants to continue the cull of badgers for a moment longer than necessary.

We are working to accelerate other elements of our strategy to improve diagnostics and develop a deployable cattle vaccine so that we can phase out the culling of badgers.

The Government’s response to the Godfray Review outlined the need for a combined approach which includes improved cattle movement controls, improved diagnostic tests and cattle vaccination to eradicate the disease in England by 2038.

Last summer, the Government announced the plan for world-leading bovine tuberculosis (bTB) TB cattle vaccination trials in England and Wales following a major breakthrough by government scientists on a potential new TB test. These trials, which will get underway in the coming months, will enable work to accelerate towards planned deployment of a cattle vaccine by 2025.

You can respond to the eight-week consultation by clicking here.

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  1. Comment by Michael Hughes posted on

    This policy clears the way for tens of thousands of healthy badgers, making no contribution to bovine TB spread, to be slaughtered under the guise of a change of direction. Meanwhile the inadequate testing system will continue to be the primary cause of disease spread, along with spread of thousands of tons of infected slurry.

  2. Comment by John Baxter posted on

    We have managed to come up with a Covid 19 vaccine in short order.
    I am quite sure that if we applied the same willpower and desire to the eradication of TB in the U.K. as we did for Covid 19 we would all benefit in short order.
    It seems to me that we have fallen asleep at the wheel when the diagnostic technique to indicate the resistance to TB with such a low degree of accuracy has not been improved for so many years.