Scottish cattle keepers to be punished for breaking TB safeguarding rules

The Scottish government is reviewing its terms on bovine TB movements, which could see keepers punished for illegal moves of restricted herds. 

Legally, herds under TB movement restrictions should not be restocked until all cattle over the age of six weeks old have passed at least one test for TB. Cattle that have to be slaughtered because of TB will currently be paid compensation by Scottish ministers at full market value. However, the Tuberculosis (Scotland) Order 2007 does not reduce or withhold compensation where the owner or keeper has acted irresponsibly or illegally and moved cattle onto an infected premises without a licence permitting them to do so.

This consultation launched by the government will review these rules to provide ministers with the authority to reduce or withhold compensation if they feel that the cattle keeper has not acted responsibly.

“The Scottish government is committed to maintaining our current low level of TB and safeguard our official TB Free status,” commented rural economy secretary, Fergus Ewing.

“It only seems fair that, where a keeper has broken rules, they should not then be able to recover the full market value for their animals that are slaughtered as a result of poor farming practices or non-compliance. We are therefore looking for views as to whether further measures to encourage Scottish farmers to follow good farming practices and keep diseases out of their herds is required.”

This comes after Defra and the Welsh government announced proposals to make changes to the English and Welsh TB programmes.

“We know that the vast majority of farmers abide by the rules and continue to work with us to maintain the currently low levels of TB in Scotland,” Ewing added. “I would encourage anyone with an interest in this area to participate in this consultation by the deadline 30 November 2017.”

Participants can contribute towards the consultation by clicking here. (https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/animal-health-and-welfare/bovine-tb/consultation/subpage.2016-07-07.1474135251/)

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Scottish branch said that the consultation had been well received, and it would consult with its members on the proposals.

“Bovine TB has been causing high levels of concern in some regions and we have had calls from some members looking for a tightening of the rules on high risk cattle movements,” explained Penny Middleton, NFU Scotland policy manager for animal health and wellbeing.

“We recognise the concerns surrounding the risk of losing our officially TB free status and it is a subject that we had already planned to discuss at upcoming committee meetings to look at measures that might be considered to help discourage higher risk activity.

“NFU Scotland will be looking closely at the proposals and looking for feedback from our members. It is not possible to comment further until that process has been completed but we will be responding and may have some further suggestions we would also like to be considered.”

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