TB: Compulsory insurance and an end to compensation on the cards

A review of the Government’s 25-year bovine TB strategy includes recommendations to scrap compensation and give farmers more information when buying livestock to avoid bringing disease into their herds.

The report, which was commissioned by Environment Secretary Michael Gove in February, and led by Sir Charles Godfray, was published today (Tuesday, November 13).

It aims to inform future strategies around the Government’s goal of eradicating the disease by 2038.

Findings from the report include:

  • The recommendation that the industry must take greater responsibility for on-farm controls, biosecurity and safe trading practices to stop the disease spreading;
  • Preference for a mandatory insurance compulsory insurance programme partially supported by Government in place of compensation;
  • More to be done to help farmers make purchasing decisions reflecting the risks of cattle being infected;
  • Evidence shows that badgers do transmit bovine TB to cattle and contribute to the persistence of the disease;
  • Disease reduction would benefit from greater flexibility and agility in adapting bovine TB control measures as new research findings emerge;
  • A new independent body on disease control would be helpful to take over disease control operations from APHA, Natural England and local authorities.

The report is now with Ministers who will consider its recommendations before publishing a response, setting out the next steps for the TB Strategy.

Farming Minister George Eustice said: ‘’We welcome this review of the Government’s 25-year bovine TB strategy and I extend my thanks to Sir Charles Godfray and his team for their hard work in producing the report.

‘’As a Government, we are committed to eradicating bTB and have always been clear that there is no single measure for tackling it. That’s why we have pursued a range of interventions, including cattle movement controls, vaccinations and controlled culling in certain areas.

“Sir Charles’ report is an important contribution that will inform next steps in the strategy to achieve officially TB free status for England by 2038.’’

Sir Charles Godfray, population biologist and Fellow of the Royal Society said: “The Review Panel are acutely aware of the burden this disease places on the welfare and well-being of farmers and their families, and the distress many people feel about badger culling.

“There are no easy answers to reducing disease levels and what is required is new drive and a concerted and concentrated effort by all sectors involved.”