TB decision met with caution

A European decision to recognise Scotland as Officially Tuberculosis Free (OTF) has been greeted with caution by livestock industry representatives.

The Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) in Brussels voted in favour of Scotland becoming OTF following a presentation by Scotland’s chief veterinary officer Simon Hall. But the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) has aired concerns over how it might affect trade with England.

President Allan Jess said: “While obviously acknowledging the intended protection that the granting of TB-free status will give to Scotland’s cattle, we remain concerned that this measure will be a disincentive for English store producers to send cattle to Scotland for finishing. If we had substantiated proof that Scotland’s OTF status would be materially enhanced as a result of this measure, we would be able to evaluate any potential trading losses against the perceived benefits. In reality, however, Scotland has maintained its excellent TB status, until now, without any artificial barriers to trade.”

The SAMW predicted that OTF would have the effect of closing down trading links between English store producers and Scottish finishers at a time when beef cattle supplies in Scotland are already under severe pressure. The issuing of OTF is understood to only take effect early next year, by which time the SAMW hopes the government will address its concerns.

The British Veterinary Association and the British Cattle Veterinary Association have also warned that Scotland could still be exposed to an increasing risk of disease unless it implements the most stringent of disease controls. Both organisations believe that livestock owners across the UK must continue to be aware of the risks of buying in any disease, including bovine TB, and continue to assess disease risks when bringing animals from any location onto their holding.

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