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.
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