Farm Minister George Eustice: new TB biosecurity campaign

New tools and advice to help farmers protect their herds from TB have been unveiled as part of a new campaign to help eradicate bovine TB, Farming Minister George Eustice has announced.

Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, the National Farmers’ Union, the British Cattle Veterinary Association and Landex have come together to promote action and help famers and vets protect herds from bovine TB. All advice on bovine TB from government, farming experts, leading vets and agricultural colleges is now available from one single website.

www.TBhub.co.uk is the ‘go-to’ place for British beef and dairy farmers to find practical advice on dealing with bovine TB on their farm, covering everything from biosecurity measures to understanding trading rules. The cross-industry campaign will also promote a new Bovine TB Biosecurity Five Point Plan to improve disease prevention on farm and in the cattle trade. Recommended actions include asking for a herd’s TB history before buying cattle and taking steps to minimise wildlife access to cattle, their feed and their housing. From the end of November, posters featuring the set of industry-endorsed actions will be on display in Animal and Plant Health Agency offices, vet surgeries and cattle auction marts. Copies will be sent to farmers around the country, together with regular surveys to track progress.

Speaking at Hartpury College, Farming Minister George Eustice said, “We are making good progress in eradicating TB from England through our 25-year strategy – reducing the risk of disease entering a farm is a crucial element if we are to end the devastation it causes for farmers and rural communities. There are simple and practical ways for farmers to reduce risk to their herds and neighbouring businesses from bovine TB which are set out in this new action plan approved by vets and farming experts. I encourage all cattle farmers to visit the new TB hub and think about the actions they could take to make a difference to improving the security of their herd – with outbreaks often costing thousands of pounds, it makes sense to take action now”.

Neil Blake, President of the British Cattle Veterinary Association, said, “Bovine TB is a hugely challenging and emotive issue for farmers. As vets we are witness to the herd health, emotional and financial impacts on a daily basis. Biosecurity and risk based trading are important in the management of all infectious diseases whether that is BVD, Johne’s disease or bovine TB. These new initiatives are an important part of the 25-year strategy to eradicate bovine TB. Combining wildlife controls with biosecurity and risk based trading will allow us to make significant inroads in the fight against bovine TB”.

Last year, over 3,000 farms were affected by new breakdowns of TB in England, with each breakdown costing an estimated £20,000 to the taxpayer and over £10,000 to farmers. An estimated 50% of breakdowns in low risk areas are caused by purchased animals.

The bovine TB biosecurity drive gets underway as over half of England is on track to become officially TB free within five years thanks to tighter cattle movement controls, badger vaccination and controlled culling in areas where the disease is rife. The campaign was launched today at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire, where students are taught about the importance of on-farm biosecurity.

Chris Moody OBE, Chief Executive of Landex, said, “Today, I have written to our 41 member agricultural colleges and universities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to kick-start a biosecurity education drive across the country. Working together with Government and the farming industry, we can educate current and future generations of livestock keepers on the merits of biosecurity to help eradicate bovine TB from the UK”.

The campaign was launched today at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire, where students are taught about the importance of on-farm biosecurity.

The five points of the plan for improved biosecurity are:

– Restrict contact between badgers & cattle
– Manage cattle feed and water
– Stop infected cattle entering the herd
– Reduce risk from neighbouring herds
– Minimise infection from cattle manure

www.tbhub.co.uk has been developed by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board with input from Defra, the National Farmers’ Union, Landex and the British Cattle Veterinary Association.

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