Biosecurity Expert Group to help farmers help themselves tackle bovine TB
The first meeting of a bovine TB expert group took place earlier this month. We (Defra) have set up the working group to help prepare a biosecurity action plan which will focus on actions that farmers and others in the livestock industry can take to better reduce the risk of bovine TB infecting and spreading within cattle herds. The group is made up of representatives from the farming industry – both organisations and individuals, as well as others, including representatives from the veterinary profession, livestock auctioneers, government, and experts on various aspects of bovine TB, including wildlife ecology. The group aims to finalise the action plan in autumn 2014, after which we will focus on working with industry to take forward the agreed work.
A workshop on biosecurity which ran in May showed that there is a lot of interest in this subject and the first meeting of the biosecurity working group in July built on that. It was clear from the participants’ energy and expertise that there is a real appetite to work with us to help decide what the priorities should be. As this is such an important element of our overall strategy for tackling TB, we need to help farmers and others work out what will have the biggest impact in terms of reducing their risk of a TB breakdown and, for those unfortunate enough to have had experience of the disease, how to regain disease freedom quickly and hopefully stay free thereafter.
John Royle, the NFU’s chief farm policy adviser and a member of the working group said: “I’m pleased that Defra has decided to involve an industry group, including farmers from both high risk and low risk areas to work together to develop ideas on how we might target biosecurity and disease prevention measures on farms. There is so much advice out there, and a lot of it is not relevant or specific to an individual farmer. Some of the measures are very expensive, not always practical and others require time to install, which farmers may not have. I hope that this group will come up with a plan which helps us to tackle some of these issues, including access to funding, tailored, expert and independent advice to suit individual needs and circumstances. Farmers want to know what they can do to reduce the risks to their herds, biosecurity measures are one tool that may help prevent their herd being infected with bovine TB or indeed other diseases.”