Act now over bovine TB, say Hertfordshire farmers

FARMERS have accused ministers of standing idly by while thousands of cattle are slaughtered every year due to bovine tuberculosis (TB).

Bridget Borlase, from Watton-at-Stone, and David Sapsed, from Codicote, both spoke out following the release of a New Year message from Peter Kendall, the president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).

In his statement, Mr Kendall described the Government’s stance on the disease as “unacceptable”.

“Put bluntly,” he said, “how can the Government stand by and do nothing while up to 40,000 cattle are slaughtered every year because of TB?.

“What a waste of productive animals, of farmers’ investment in their businesses, of taxpayers’ money.”

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Miss Borlase, who keeps 400 cattle at Sacombe Hill Farm, agrees.

“There are thousands of cattle being killed unnecessarily because the testing for TB is so dated,” he said.

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The 34-year-old said she was concerned that Hertfordshire could, like the West Country, become a hotspot for the disease.

“It is moving closer to here all the time,” she said.

“It has got over to Oxfordshire now in a big way and Essex is affected too.”

Many farmers want a cull of badgers, which they say spread the disease to cattle, but Miss Borlase admitted she preferred the Government’s tactic of vaccinating the mammals.

However she said the scale of the vaccination programme, which is currently confined to areas such as the South West, was insufficent.

Mr Sapsed, who has 100 cattle at High Heath Farm, said Hertfordshire had not yet “felt the crunch” of Bovine TB.

But he said the vast amount of cattle moving around the country meant that the disease would definitely find its way into the county soon.

Describing the Government’s attempts to deal with TB as “terrible,” Mr Sapsed said: “Instead of knocking out the infected badgers they are knocking out the infected cattle.”

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “The Government is determined to make progress in the eradication of bovine TB.

“Badgers are a factor, which is why Defra has begun a project to vaccinate badgers in six areas in England which have a high incidence of TB in cattle.”

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