Defra has today announced changes to the rules around the movement of cattle to help prevent the spread of bovine TB. The changes will start on January 1st 2013 and include moving to county from parish testing intervals."Defra has made additional changes to the cattle surveillance programme in order to further reduce the risk of disease spread to areas currently free of TB" said NFU chief livestock adviser Peter Garbutt."While we fully agree with the need to get on top of and eventually eradicate this disease, we recognise that some of these changes are bound to cause consternation to those farming businesses directly affected by them."Regions where farms must be tested yearly for TB have been extended under the new changes, the extensions are mainly in the west and central parts of England. The time that farmers have to move cattle tested negative for TB has been reduced from 60 days to 30.Four-yearly testing will be used for regions outside of the TB area. Also, cattle farmers that have had TB diagnosed in the past will need to have their herd reassessed before new cattle are bought.
"These changes will simplify the complex patchwork of the parish system, keep our testing regime one step ahead of the disease and ensure that investigation of new TB breakdowns is risk based" said Garbutt."There is an acceptance from farmers outside the high risk areas that further measures to reduce the spread of the disease are needed and we know that the Commission is keen to accelerate the eradication programme.
These announcements come at a time when the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England are conducting a separate review of all measures in place to control TB in cattle and wildlife along with looking at how stretched government budgets are best spent.