NFU Scotland is reminding its members that new cattle testing laws to protect Scotland from bovine tuberculosis come into effect today (23 September). NFUS is urging farmers to make themselves aware of the new rules to avoid getting unwittingly caught up in restrictions.
The new rules focus on the movements of cattle from high risk areas of England and Wales into Scotland and make TB testing compulsory before animals are moved from these areas and after they arrive in Scotland.
Scotland's incidence of TB remains extremely low, in stark contrast to the situation in England and Wales. Scotland had 23 cases of TB in 2004 and up to 31 August this year there have been 11 cases in Scotland. For GB as a whole, there were 1372 cases in 2004 and by 31 July 2005, there had been 1038 cases across GB.
- Any farmer importing cattle from high incidence areas of England or Wales will be responsible for ensuring both pre- and post-movement testing is carried out.
- If discovered that a pre-movement test has not been carried out prior to cattle being moved onto a farm, the whole herd on that farm will be subject to movement restrictions until the test is done.
- Cattle coming into Scotland to go straight to slaughter are exempt and calves under 42 days of age do not need a pre-movement test, but must be post-movement tested.
- Producers can contact their local animal health office with ear tag details to verify if any cattle they have bought or are planning to buy originate in a high risk parish.
NFUS Livestock Chairman Nigel Miller said: "These new rules bolster our defences and reduce the chances of TB becoming established in our cattle or wildlife populations. The rules are strict, but they are a price worth paying. It is important that every cattle producer in the country is aware of the new rules. The last thing any producer wants is to find his farm effectively shut down because he has bought cattle from a hotspot without checking the testing history.
"The vast majority of Scotland's TB cases are traced to cattle being imported from TB hotspots. The trade between TB hotspots and Scotland is significant, making it all the more important that Scottish producers verify the background to any stock that they source. We welcome the opportunity available to farmers to contact their local animal health office if they are unsure about the origin of cattle.
"I am pleased the Executive is being proactive in the fight against TB in contrast to the position in England and Wales. The delay in Defra bringing forward its own legislation leaves Scottish farmers very much on their own in demanding the test history from farmers before they buy. We hope this lack of legislative back-up in England and Wales does not drag on and we will be pressing Defra to ensure its own legislation places a duty on farmers to declare the testing status of animals before they are sold."
TB - the real threat to herds