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Bovine Tuberculosis

Volume 502: debated on Thursday 10 December 2009

14. How many cattle were slaughtered because of bovine tuberculosis precautions in the last three months. (305588)

The most recent three-month report available is for the end of August 2009. Between 1 June and 31 August, 5,202 cattle were slaughtered in England for bovine TB control purposes. Figures are provisional and subject to change as more data become available.

I am sure that the Minister is aware of the devastating impact that the slaughter of herds has not only on the farmer’s business, but on the farmer and his or her family—it completely destroys their entire life. Furthermore, there are questions about the reliability of the TB tests. How much does the slaughter policy cost and what is the long-term policy, because we cannot just go on slaughtering more and more cattle when it obviously is not working?

The hon. Gentleman is right. We are sensitive to the tragic impacts on farms, families, regions and areas when TB strikes. The Secretary of State set up the TB eradication group last November. It has met 19 times and has already produced a report that recommended a raft of initiatives to try to deal with this. The problem will only be eradicated in the medium to long term, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that the Department is doing as much as it can to support the group.