'All cattle' at risk of bovine TB
12 July 2005 - BBC News
The president of the National Farmers' Union (NFU) has warned that all cattle
in the South West are in danger of getting tuberculosis.
Tim Bennett issued the warning as he met the region's farmers whose herds
have been affected by Bovine TB. Mr Bennett repeated his call to the
government to start a cull of badgers which carry the disease.
Badger groups said there was no evidence culls would be effective and cattle
movement is the problem.
The South West is already one of the hot spots for bovine TB in the UK. In
Cornwall alone, between 1 January and 31 May, 250,000 cattle have been tested
and 1,500 animals have been slaughtered. At the end of May 592 herds were under
movement restrictions. In Devon 860 farms have suffered TB in cattle at some
point this year.
Last month, a £3.3m three-year trial testing the effectiveness of TB vaccines
for badgers was announced by the government. But the NFU said the problem was so
bad the government could not afford to wait for the results. Mr Bennett
said that badger culling, combined with restrictions on cattle movements could
cure the problem until a vaccine was found. He said: "It is quite clear if you
look at the research in the UK and around the world that if you are going to get
rid of bovine TB, you need to make sure that all infected cattle and wherever
possible, infected wildlife, are not there."
He said "tough decisions" would have to be made to eradicate the disease.
"We don't want to disturb any wildlife that are healthy but in terms of
animal welfare, gassing is probably the nicest way to do it. The cost of this
disease to farmers and to taxpayers and the spread of the disease is not
acceptable. The farmers who have this disease in their cattle, knowing that it
is perfectly possible to reduce or eliminate it, are in despair. It is putting
at risk the entire cattle population of the South West unless we all sit down
together and agree that we have to find a way of eradicating this disease."
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