UK – Half of England will be declared free of bovine TB by 2020, according to the agriculture secretary Liz Truss.
Speaking to the Oxford Farming Conference, Mrs Truss said that the action the government is taking in tackling the disease is working and the number of new cases is levelling off.
And she announced that the areas where badger culling has taken place would be extended this year.
However, the government’s action to tackle bovine TB came under fire from the shadow agriculture minister Kerry McCarthy, who challenged the validity of science behind the trial badger culls as part of the eradication programme.
Mrs Truss said: “I am absolutely committed to eradicate TB.
“We are making good progress against what is the gravest animal disease threat facing Britain.”
She added: “Our approach of tackling the disease both in cattle and wildlife has worked in Australia and is working in Ireland and Australia.
“Thanks to the efforts and the dedication of local farmers all three areas: Somerset, Gloucestershire and Dorset, hit their target in 2015.
“The chief veterinary officer is clear this policy needs to be followed over a wider area to secure full disease control benefits.
“That’s why I announced, in line with his advice, I want to see culling in more areas this year.”
Mrs Truss said that the number of new cases is levelling off, but the UK still has the highest rate in Europe.
“I will do whatever it takes to get rid of this terrible disease,” she said.
Ms McCarthy said that there is a shortage of vaccine to vaccinate badgers in the marginal buffer zones but she attacked the policy to cull badgers.
“I’m against the cull because if you look at the science, I don’t think culling works,” she said.
She said that looking at the expected response to 10 years of culling trials, the reduction in bovine TB was limited.
Ms McCarthy called for more action to be taken to restrict the disease spreading within the cattle herd and called for greater restrictions of cattle movements.
By Chris Harris
Source: The Dairy Site