LONDON – Defra announced new measures aimed at reducing the risk of bovine TB spreading between cattle in England. Starting Jan. 1, 2013, the agency will implement new surveillance and testing procedures and cattle movement controls.

England will have two cattle TB testing frequency areas. Annual TB testing will expand to include the south-west, west and central England, and East Sussex to include adjoining high-risk areas where most TB cases are found and have the greatest potential to spread the disease. The rest of England will have tests every four years.

New cattle movement rules mandate that:

• In all cases, farmers who have had a case of TB in their farm will be prohibited from bringing new cattle in until the rest of the herd has been tested for TB and a veterinarian has carried out an assessment;

• Farmers now have 30 days, down from 60, to move cattle that test negative for TB from a TB breakdown farm;

• Approved Quarantine Units (AQUs) are going to be phased out. AQUs are quarantine units on farms for calves from TB breakdown farms. Starting in 2013, existing AQUs will not be able to accept more calves; and

• TB free cattle are sent to Approved Finishing Units (AFUs) from TB infected farms for fattening before they are slaughtered. The conditions in these will be strictly monitored to maintain high standards and prevent the spread of TB. Serious breaches could result in loss of operating licenses.

“The Government and the farming industry are committed to doing all they can to halt the spread of TB," said Agriculture Minister David Heath. “We already have strong measures in place to tackle transmission between cattle — including compulsory testing, slaughter of infected animals and movement restrictions on infected herds.

"However, as set out in the Bovine TB Eradication Program in July 2011, we are always looking to improve our methods and will strengthen controls where necessary,” he added.