Defra announces new TB regulations
Defra has strengthened measures to reduce the risk of bovine TB being spread between cattle, by announcing changes to its regulations on cattle movements and the compensation policy, which will take effect from 1 July 2012.
It says the changes, which are part of the government’s plan to eradicate the disease in England, will remove ambiguities around scheme rules and anomalies, and make the TB compensation system more transparent. New deterrents will be put in place to deter late testing and to reduce disease spread risks for all cattle.
Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said: “We need to stop the spread of bovine TB, that last year led to the slaughter of 26,000 cattle and could cost the taxpayer a billion pounds over the next 10 years unless action is taken. These strengthened measures, alongside work to pilot badger culling, and the development of badger and cattle vaccines, aim to help control the disease and eventually eradicate it.
“The farming community has shown it is willing to shoulder its share of the burden to tackle bovine TB. There is already a comprehensive range of robust control measures for TB in cattle in place, but we must continuously look for ways to tighten them if we are ever going to get on top of this devastating disease.”
The changes announced today will see reduced compensation payable for TB reactors (an animal that has failed the tuberculin skin test) identified at tests which are significantly overdue, as well as changes to cattle movements.
In a bid to encourage the timely testing of cattle and reduce the disease spread risks for all cattle farmers, Defra has introduced a sliding scale, which will reduce the compensation paid to owners of TB reactor cattle disclosed in the herd. When a test is overdue by more than 60 days, 25% of the compensation will be deducted, with 50% for tests that are more than 90 days late, but not over 180 days, or 95% for tests that are overdue by 180 days.
New compensation categories have also been made in response to proposals from external and internal stakeholders, which include a new category for young pedigree beef animals (aged 0-6 months), while the dairy calved animals category (pedigree and non-pedigree) will be split into two age bands - up to 7 years, and over 7 years.
Pedigree compensation rates will only be payable for animals with breeding potential, and only owners of animals with full pedigree certificates will receive pedigree compensation rates.
Compensation will only be payable for cattle with the correct, legally required ID documentation, and only if a cattle passport is produced before the affected animal is removed for slaughter.
As well as changes to the compensation scheme, Defra has made changes to the Cattle Tracing System (CTS) links and Sole Occupancy Authorities (SOAs), saying that, from 1 July, it will not approve or renew existing CTS links or SOAs applications if they include holdings in high and low TB risk areas. It said that in future all CTS links and SOAs may be abolished if all of the Farming Regulation Task Force recommendations on simplifying livestock movement arrangements are implemented.
The exemption permitting movements within SOAs will also be revised, with owners of SOAs that include holdings in high and low TB risk areas being required to pre-movement test animals moved from the high-risk holdings within their SOA.
Other regulation changes include those made to pre-movement testing exemptions, which will see the removal of the 30-day residency exemption, as well as revisions to the exemption covering cattle movements to agricultural shows. High TB risk herds (that is, herds with a routine TB testing interval of one or two years) will be required to undergo pre-movement testing for movements to shows if cattle will be at the show for more than 24 hours and/or housed or kept inside at the showground.
Defra said that a key objective of the pre-movement testing policy is to reduce the risk of TB becoming established in new parts of the country. It said that it is necessary to ensure cattle are tested clear of the disease before being moved from high TB risk areas, given the seriousness of the TB problem.
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