Any changes to the government’s 25-year bovine TB eradication strategy must be based on science and evidence that can prove effective in reducing incidents of the disease, the NFU said today.
In its response to the Defra consultation on proposed changes to the strategy, the NFU says it does not support the wildlife proposals because it will lead to an increased reliance on untested approaches, at the same time as heavily restricting the ability to utilise measures that are proven to be effective, such as badger culling.
NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said: “Bovine TB continues to have a huge impact on thousands of farming families across the country and the emotional, mental and financial strain this devastating disease causes is enormous.
“However, the government’s 25-year bovine TB eradication strategy has provided hope for many farmers and it is clearly delivering successful results. As an outcome of the work done under the strategy, incidents of bovine TB in cull areas have dropped by 51% over four years.
“These results have been delivered by listening to the science and evidence, working in partnership with Britain’s farmers, and building policy on that basis. However, the changes proposed by the government would be a significant move away from that approach.
“Stepping away from this proven approach threatens the success of the entire eradication strategy and could undo years of hard work.
“We simply cannot support the proposed changes which would jeopardise the progress made using established control measures and rely upon alternatives which have not been tried and tested.
“I would urge government ministers to work on the basis of the data in front of them, not a desire to meet arbitrary dates, and continue with the existing strategy that utilises badger culling where appropriate, as part of a complete bovine TB eradication strategy.”