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System Needed to Approve Badger Reduction Licences - says NBA
27/02/08

The National Beef Association is confident that EFRA’s recommendation that Defra should quickly adopt a properly funded, balanced, and multi-faceted approach to TB control in England puts Secretary of State, Hilary Benn, under even greater pressure to approve planned badger population reduction in specific, hot spot, control areas.

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“EFRA is in no doubt that effective TB eradication must include the introduction of anti-badger controls that fall in line with procedural advice laid down by the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) and former chief scientist, Sir David King,” explained NBA TB committee chairman, Bill Harper.

“And in view of this the Association calls on Mr Benn to follow up EFRA’s conclusions and authorise Natural England to set up a processing system to approve badger reduction licences submitted by co-ordinated groups of farmers in hotspot areas.”

“As soon as an approval system is established, the NBA will be advising groups that it has worked with closely over the past 18 months to submit their licence applications and demonstrate that their plans meet the pre-conditions that EFRA too has backed.”

According to Mr Harper preliminary organisation for one project, code named VLA9 after the strain of TB spoligotype prevalent in that area of North Cornwall and north west Devon , which covers almost 800 square kilometers, and is bounded by coastline, rivers, trunk roads, and moorland, is close to being completed.

The VLA9 project must be done is partnership with Defra who will need to monitor and facilitate the work. This project being offered by the industry to Defra is the most exceptional offer ever made by the farming industry to take ownership of this out of control notifiable disease.

“The project leaders are confident that they can deliver sustained badger population reduction for a minimum of three years over at least 75 per cent of the land area and are very keen to put their applications in front of Natural England,” he said.

“They are also aware that Mr Benn has said that this type of application will be judged on its practicality, its use of science, its likely impact on TB in the area, and its public acceptability.”

“And in view of this would like him to agree that if their application fails in any of these areas, they can retrieve it, make the necessary modifications and reapply with well founded expectation of success.”

The NBA also acknowledges EFRA’s insistence that badger population reduction must be coupled with more intense anti-TB measures in co-populations of cattle.

“Cattle farmers are looking forward to a reduction in the number of farms under TB2 restriction and the number of cattle removed, and compensated, under Defra’s notorious tabular valuation system,” said Mr Harper.

“So they have every reason to work with Defra in making sure that as soon as less TB is being spread by badgers that the infection contained within cattle herds is reduced, and then eliminated, too.”

“Our current view is that the introduction of tougher measures against TB in cattle must be judged against a reduction in the spread created by badgers and we are expecting Defra to advise us on how long to wait after badger reduction has begun and stiffer controls against TB in cattle can be introduced without fear of avoidable, non-cattle, re-infection.”

The NBA is also pleased that EFRA has asked Defra to review the tabular valuation system of TB reactors and reduce its unfair impact on the owners of high value cattle.

“This is another of EFRA’s many recommendations that must be pursued with great urgency,” added Mr Harper.

link RABDF Welcomes EFRA's Bovine TB Recommendations
link Bird Flu Could Strike Again in India, FAO Warns
link Bovine TB Pre-Movement Tests Cost £15 per Animal

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