Farmers will 'need to share the cost of TB control'

FARMERS will have to share the cost of bovine TB control over the next decade, Michael Seals, chairman of Animal Health and Welfare Board for England (AHWBE), has told farmers.

Speaking at a session at the NFU conference on Thursday, Mr Seals said AHWBE’s bovine TB advisers were compiling a comprehensive TB strategy to be published for consultation later this year.

He said one of the considerations underpinning the strategy will be ‘who is going to pay for this over the next 10 years’, referring to Defra Secretary Owen Paterson’s comment at the conference that the cost could reach £1 billion over the next 10 years.  

AHWBE has already staged an industry discussion on new ways of tackling TB, which included cost sharing ideas like giving responsibility to farmers to removing reactors and allowing them to keep the salvage value from abattoirs.  

“There is no doubt there will have to be degree of sharing of funding that we are going to look at. We are going to have to find ways that are innovative and proportional and equitable. What we really want is a partnership approach,” Mr Seals told a conference break out session on animal health and welfare.

Mr Seals said the AHWBE and the TB Eradication Advisory Group will publish a comprehensive strategy on bTB later this year that would set out a set of policies aiming to return to the UK to official TB Free status.

He said the strategy would cover all aspects of the problem, including badger control, vaccination, cattle controls and science. It will also look to address some of the policy ‘anomalies’ that exist and look at improving the way TB policy is communicated.

But he warned there would be ‘no silver bullet’ and that it will ‘years of work’ to deliver tangible results. “It will not be vague, the programme will deliver. It will not be overnight, there is no silver bullet,” he said.

Mr Seals welcomed Mr Paterson’s announcement that the badger cull pilots will proceed this year after Natural England granted full licences to the West Somerset and West Gloucestershire areas, with Dorset identified as a reserve.

But UKIP MEP Stuart Agnew said he was ‘genuinely worried’ about threat of intimidation on participation in the badger culls and warned the projects could ‘collapse’ unless farmers are given the proper support.

NFU vice president Adam Quinney said farmer commitment in the areas remains ‘strong’ and that the NFU was well aware of the need to protect participants from the sort of intimidation seen last year before the culls were postponed.

A Defra official told the meeting Defra was prepared to play its part in promoting the policy and addressing the issues around the intimidation of farmers. “We’re all this together,” she said.

NFU Conference 2013

  • The two-day NFU conference will take place at the ICC, in Birmingham, on Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Follow it on our Farmers Guardian | NFU Conference page, where we will be posting live updates and stories and videos from the event.
  • Follow our journalists at the conference on Twitter using the #nfu13 hastag.

Readers' comments (25)

  • cull can't go ahead because farmers will drop out in huge numbers as soon as the cull starts and they see the numbers of activists coming onto farms.

    thats why paterson has created a backup, which fair play to him couldn't be closer to the AR heartlands.

    cheers Mr.P best news yet. think glos will go in next 2 months.

    and its "we're all in this together" ?? surely. But maybe not :P

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  • GB is the only country in Europe to have legislation that deals specifically with badgers. Legislation for this was passed at a time when TB levels were tiny. Now when costs are spiraling, the government wants farmers to share the cost of controlling it.

    I am not sure what control means here. Does this mean testing or compensation or both?

    In order to get out of the current mess, farmers should be more involved and have more influence on how the disease is controlled and the most effective way of doing this is if compensation costs paid by the state are reduced. Perhaps farmers could help pay via an industry-financed levy. However they should be left out of paying for routine testing. This is something which the government should be paying for 100%. Interests would be best served if farmers pay no contribution towards routine testing.

    Regarding taking more of the burden for compensation, this should only occur after culling is implemented. It would be totally unfair to burden farmers with this additional cost before a solution is in sight.

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  • ALREADY passing the buck for a cull that will not work.Killing heathly badgers will never be the way forward.

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  • Cull doomed to fail. Farmers should drop out now and save some money while they have got the chance.

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  • Killing badgers works (if done thoroughly) as shown in the link below.

    More stringent cattle control measures don't, as shown in the links blow.

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  • If anyone would like to have a better understanding from people who are at the forefront of this horrendous problem, the video in the link below features two vets. You will need to fast the video until you see two chaps speaking. A transcript of what was said should become available within the next day or so.

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  • Further to my comment above, you will need to click on the link below where it says

    "Wednesday 27 February 2013 - VMD; BVA/BCVA"

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  • its simple
    a badger cull won't work because of massive opposition you can post links all day.

    to many of us and the british public is on the side of badgers

    you'll have to try something else

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  • Unless everyone goes vegan overnight, it is inevitable that the only thing stopping existing cattle measures from working will be removed.

    This means that tackling cross-infection from badgers through culling will happen regardless of what is done to stop this from happening.

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  • really so why is there a back up zone?

    because they know that glos zone is about to go, why?

    because of activists. Badger cull won't happen

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