LONDON – As part of the UK government’s plan to eradicate bovine TB in England, measures to reduce the risk of this disease being spread between cattle are going to be strengthened, according to the Department Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

On July 1, amendments to the rules on cattle movements will become effective, along with changes to compensation policy, including reduced payments for owners of TB-affected herds with overdue tests.

“We need to stop the spread of bovine TB, that last year led to the slaughter of 26,000 cattle and could cost the taxpayer one-billion pounds ($ 1.6 billion) over the next 10 years unless action is taken,” said Agriculture Minister Jim Paice. “These strengthened measures, alongside work to pilot badger culling, and the development of badger and cattle vaccines, aim to help control the disease and eventually eradicate it.”

Changes to cattle controls were announced in July 2011 as part of the package of measures to tackle bovine TB. The final details of the changes to be introduced on July 1 include:

• Removing the exemption allowing cattle held on a farm for under 30 days to be moved without being tested, in order to reduce the risk of untested cattle spreading bovine TB when they are moved between different holdings;

• Removing the pre-movement testing exemption for movements within ‘Sole Occupancy Authorities’ that have holdings in high and low risk TB areas;

• Pre-movement testing for cattle moved from higher TB risk herds to agricultural shows where cattle are housed or are held there for more than 24 hours — to reduce the risk of untested cattle, from higher TB risk herds, spreading the disease through close contact with other cattle; and

• Discouraging late testing of cattle for bovine TB to reduce disease spread risks for all cattle, by reducing compensation for owners of TB affected herds if tests are overdue by more than 60 days.

From July 1, no new Sole Occupancy Authorities will be approved; and no new Cattle Tracing System links between holdings in high and low TB risk areas will be approved, with existing links between high and low risk areas being removed on a phased basis.