LONDON – The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) released additional measures to help farmers lower the risk of bovine tuberculosis spreading to their livestock operations.
A Biosecurity Plan outlines steps Defra is taking to help farmers improve on and off-farm cattle biosecurity. Actions the agency is planning include:

• developing collectively agreed written information, advice and guidance;
• establishing a clear division of responsibilities between the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), veterinarians and others;
• establishing a single national hub for biosecurity, information, advice, guidance and research material; and
• developing and promoting TB accreditation and farm health schemes.

“During the last Parliament bovine TB rates in England soared to the highest in Europe,” said Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss. “That is why we are taking strong action in pursuing our comprehensive strategy, including tighter cattle movement controls, vaccinations and culling.

“The Chief Vet’s advice is that results of this year’s cull in Somerset show they can be effective,” Truss added. “That is why I am determined to continue with a comprehensive Strategy that includes culling.”
Independently audited results show that 341 badgers were removed from Somerset and 274 in Gloucestershire this year.

In addition to the biosecurity plan, Defra plans to consider a package of tougher cattle measures in 2015, including statutory post-movement testing for cattle enter the Low Risk Areas. Other measures planned for 2015 include a web-based map showing locations of TB and publishing disease reports for the Edge and Low Risk Areas.

Defra awarded 50,000 pounds in small grants to livestock markets to support measures that encourage cattle buyers to give greater consideration to the TB risk of animals they are buying.