TB strategy ahead of schedule
England is set to apply for Officially TB-Free (OTF) status for more than half of the country next year – two years ahead of schedule. Gaining OTF status for the low risk area, which covers the north and east of England, should boost trade opportunities and mean some herds require less regular TB testing, reducing costs for farmers.
Achieving this status is a key step in the Government’s 25-year plan for the whole of the UK to be TB-free by 2038 and it could also make beef exports from the UK more attractive for trade partners around the world.
Other measures announced as part of the plan to eradicate bovine TB are as follows:
- Wider use of blood tests alongside the current skin test in the high risk area to provide a more sensitive testing regime in TB affected herds, minimising the risk of leaving infected animals in herds.
- A plan to introduce new, more coherent powers to manage the TB risk in pigs, sheep, goats, deer and camelids, to bring them more in line with cattle controls. This will include new statutory compensation arrangements for these species.
- More frequent updates to the ibTB online tool which allows farmers to view TB outbreaks close to their farms. From early in 2017 the data will be reviewed every fortnight rather than every month.
Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens, said: “This year we have seen that badger control can be delivered successfully on a wider scale. Further expansion in the coming years, alongside our robust cattle movement and testing regime, will allow us to achieve and maintain long term reductions in the level of TB across the South West and Midlands where the disease is currently widespread.”