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Animal Health

Volume 627: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2017

Today I am updating the House on the implementation of the Government’s 25-year strategy to eradicate bovine TB (bTB) in England.

The Government’s comprehensive bTB strategy includes one of the most rigorous cattle surveillance programmes in the world, strong movement controls, a focus on good biosecurity, and badger control where TB is rife.

We are making good progress. The Government have this week applied for official TB-free status for the low risk area of the England—more than half the country—two years ahead of schedule, which will bring trade benefits for farmers in these areas.

Further measures I am outlining today will help us eradicate the disease from the rest of England more quickly and more effectively.

A consultation begins today on proposals to catch disease in herds as early as possible, by introducing a simpler, more risk-based TB testing regime in the high risk area with six-monthly routine surveillance tests. Lower risk herds where owners can demonstrate good biosecurity will be subject to less frequent testing. We are proposing some adjustments to the compensation system to improve incentives for farmers to reduce disease risks on their farms. Also included is a proposal to allow farmers to retain in-calf TB test positive cattle for up to 60 days, subject to biosecurity controls.

I can also confirm that we are now confident that supplies of BCG vaccine are sufficient to allow us to resume the badger edge vaccination scheme. This will help protect healthy badgers and stop disease spreading to new parts of the country. Private groups intending to run vaccination schemes will be able to apply for grants later this year for projects to run next summer.

We are also publishing responses to a consultation on supplementary badger control, and its licensing guidance, outlining plans to make sure disease control benefits in areas that have completed intensive culling are maintained while the disease is still present in England.

We are determined to implement all available measures necessary to eradicate this devastating disease as quickly as possible to create resilient and successful dairy and beef industries.

Copies of the cattle controls consultation and the badger control summary of consultation responses have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.