Farmers point the finger at badgers
A new independent report has concluded that up to three-quarters of bovine TB outbreaks in cattle are caused by contact with infected badgers
and other so-called "local effects" in high-risk areas, rather than by movements of cattle, which are responsible for only 16%.
This flatly contradicts repeated claims by the Badger Trust and others that cattle movements are responsible for the majority of bovine TB outbreaks.
The NFU said today, Wednesday, the report left Defra Secretary of State Hilary Benn with no option but to initiate action aimed at cutting off the flow of infection from badgers to cattle.
NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said the report had provided Government with clear guidance on where its priorities should lie in bringing bovine TB under control.
"We have always argued that in the TB hotspot areas, which account for the vast majority of total TB outbreaks, far and away the biggest cause of disease spread was infection coming from the badger population.
"This report confirms that, and also concludes that cattle movements are of "relatively low importance" in the overall picture. We are, of course, prepared to consider further cattle controls, especially to prevent the spread of disease into new areas, but this report suggests that the regime already in place is providing effective protection.
"The message for Hilary Benn is crystal clear: infected badgers are responsible for the vast majority of TB outbreaks; only by targeting infected badgers will you ever get on top of this pernicious disease, and the sooner you do it, the better."