Roger Salmon column

TB is devastating cattle.
TB is devastating cattle.

Environment secretary Owen Paterson said “ doing nothing is not an option.”

TB is a terrible disease which is devastating our cattle and dairy industries and causing misery for many people in rural communities.

We need to do everything we can, as set out in our strategy, to make England TB free.

This includes continuing to strengthen cattle movement controls, a grant-funded scheme for badger vaccination projects in the edge area at the frontier of the disease and improvements to the four year badger cull pilots in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

Following recommendations from the independent expert panel that assessed the badger cull pilots last year, a series of changes will be made to improve the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of culling.

These changes will be monitored to assess their impact before further decisions are taken on more badger cull licences next year.

The four year culls in Somerset and Gloucester are pilots and lessons will be learnt from them.

Improvements to the pilot culls will include more training for contractors carrying out the work, better planning and better data collection.

The changes will increase the effectiveness of the culls by removing more badgers in a safe and humane way.

Addressing bovine TB in badgers in high risk areas is part of a long term project to achieve TB free status by 2038.

This includes:

*Offering grant funding for private badger vaccination projects.

*Strengthening cattle movement control.

*Improving biosecurity buy helping farmers purchasing cattle.

*Continuing to invest in development of a new vaccine for cattle and an oral vaccine for badgers.