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RABDF calls for new clearance policy


The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers has called government to immediately review its TB reactor clearance policy and introduce a market based solution. It has also urged producers to take essential measures to minimise TB disease transmission in view of the fact any form of meaningful cull will not get off the ground until 2013 at the very earliest. 

Six weeks ago RABDF welcomed Defra secretary, Caroline Spelmans announcement for an intended licenced badger cull in England as part of a controlled plan to eradicate bovine TB; it was a significant step forward after waiting for more than 15 years for Government to introduce some form of positive action, the associations chairman, David Cotton told a briefing at the Dairy Event and Livestock Show, at The NEC Birmingham today, 6 September. However we expressed grave concern that further consultation was required, no doubt inevitably followed by judicial review.

We have to get real. If and when the proposed cull does go ahead, it will be isolated to just two hot spot areas. Depending on its success, its going to be at least a further 12 months before we see any vaguely widespread action which takes us to 2013 and beyond.

In the meantime, we must have more effective administration. RABDF believes government must review its TB reactor clearance policy and introduce a market based solution.  Farmers, including myself, are waiting an average two weeks from the test results received to removal from the farm by facilitators managed by AHVLA. During that period these reactor cattle have to be isolated and run the further risk of infecting wildlife.

RABDF proposes that farmers are empowered with a choice of disposal by offering them a market based solution, similar to that service already delivered by the National Fallen Stock Company for the collection and disposal of fallen stock. Farmers would have access to a list of slaughter premises and hauliers who we would place confidence in to accelerate the current reactor clearance procedure, he said.

Thats not all. While we commend the video released by Defra last week offering practical advice on taking proactive measures to minimise disease transmission, all farmers need to go a great deal further. We strongly urge them to adopt the following five measures.

  • Adhere to the 60 day pre-movement testing rule
  • Source all purchased stock from a farm which has no record of reactors in the last two years
  • Isolate all purchased cattle on to the oncoming farm for a minimum of four weeks during which period, each individual animals vaccination programme should be updated
  • Ensure every purchased animal is accompanied by a full health declaration form
  • Take the best possible advice from your vet and consultant. Keep up to speed with whats happening to TB control

TB is an insidious disease which remains the biggest concern among all livestock producers throughout the rest of the country, even if they are not in an infected area and its stifling their farming businesses. Of equal concern, TB is spreading like wildfire to other species. We therefore believe its up to all livestock farmers to help themselves by pulling together to control this disease within those affected regions, never mind reduce the risk of spread to new areas. We also call on government to introduce the necessary administration measures at the earliest.


David Cotton manages a family dairy farm based near Glastonbury, Somerset carrying 460 head of livestock. The unit has been shut down for two years due to reactors. Consequently two days in every 60 are spent testing animals.


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