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Eradication Group: Defra Take on Bovine TB

04 November 2008

UK - A new England group on eradication of TB in cattle will be set up to make recommendations to the Secretary of State on bovine TB and its eradication.

The Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, has today announced that Defra and the English Cattle Industry have agreed to form a new Bovine TB Eradication Group. This will be a joint Defra/Industry group and its remit is set out below. The exact membership of the group will be finalised shortly.

The membership of the group will include representatives from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Food and Farming Group, Animal Health, the farming industry and the veterinary profession, and it will be convened and facilitated by Defra. The Group may invite other experts to contribute to its work as necessary, including other industry bodies and wider interest groups. It will also draw on the advice of the Commission’s TB Task Force, which will be invited to visit GB in early 2009.

According to Defra, the group will review the current TB strategy and control measures and develop a plan for reducing the incidence of bovine TB from cattle in England and moving towards eventual eradication. A news release said: "it will also assess options to help farmers in high incidence areas maintain viable businesses when under disease restrictions. A priority output from the work of this group will be a series of measures which can be submitted to the European Commission for approval as part of a formal eradication plan. The group may wish to make recommendations on other issues as they arise, and Defra may also choose to refer specific issues to the group."

The group will also look at the options available to address infection in cattle and to reduce the risk of transmission between cattle and between cattle and wildlife, and consider costs and benefits in making recommendations for action. "It will consider options for using vaccination in cattle and badgers. It will also consider any exceptional circumstances or new scientific evidence that might arise relating to the established policy on badger culling for control of TB, recognising that the terms of this policy are currently subject to judicial review", says the Defra release.

In carrying out this work the group will have full access to information on Defra’s TB budget and be able to make recommendations on its use within Defra’s funding ceilings. It will also be able to make recommendations for additional expenditure where these can be supported by a robust business case.

Hilary Benn said:

“I welcome the establishment of this joint government-industry group. It is a step forward in moving towards the long-term goal of eradicating bovine TB. The Group will have difficult issues to consider on what further steps we can together take to improve disease control and deliver benefits for both the industry and the taxpayer."

"We have worked hard over recent months to find a way government and industry can come together on this and I am pleased we have reached an agreement which can carry us forward."

Further Reading

- Find out more information on Bovine Tuberculosis by clicking here.

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