In a press release 14 / 09 / 04 Defra announced its latest weapon in the fight against bovine Tb.
A new Committee.
This new stakeholder group (they explain) will be entitled the Tb Strategy Core Stakeholder Group. That's so we don't get confused with the (bigger and older) Stakeholder Group or the Tb Forum - or are they the same people?
The group will meet for the first time on the 2oth September and will 'help' officials give appropriate weight and balance to "Preparing for a New GB strategy on bovine Tb".
With the help of this new group, Defra say they hope to have the new strategy in place by early 2005.
(When is the next election?)
While this 'new' group attempt to find a way to control bovine tb in cattle, without controlling the disease in badgers, several new measures will be introduced to nail the cattle even tighter to the floor.
* There will be a recalculation of routine testing intervals to 'ensure Tb testing complies with Commission legislation'.
Does that mean that at the moment, it does not?
"Seek and ye shall find". Defra only have the cattle tests as 'sentinels' of the amount and location of Tb hotpots. They do not know how many herds in places which are as yet untested, may have had the benefit of a translocated Tb takeaway. (see Relocation, Relocation - archived on this site)
* Livestock movement restrictions will be imposed immedaitely a herd test becomes overdue.
The authors have no problem with that.
* A more rigourous and systematic approach to identifying and dealing with potential new hotspots.
Well that's an open statement isn't it?.
Drawing a 'Clean ring' around an outbreak and testing neighbouring herds quickly is sensible. But if 'Expert SVS opinion' indicates a wildlife reservoir as the source , capable of giving continuing exposure and fuelling the outbreak - what then?
* The introduction of rigourous testing schedules for new and reformed herds.
"Reformed" what does Defra mean?
Reform, to make better, to improve? or Re-form, fluid, to make different? Do Defra mean 'flying herds' of dairy cattle, beef herds who buy in store animals for finishing or cattle dealers and bull hire agents?
We suspect the term is loosely labelled to mean - anything Defra want it to mean.
However, the authors have no problem with more regular testing on herds who have a high throughput of purchased cattle, provided of course that it goes hand in hand with action on the maintenance reservoir in the badgers.
But readers should be aware that snuck in at the bottom of the press release, is the birth announcement of yet another committee. Readers will remember the the Pre Movement testing post on this site. This small, sub, sub group will be entitled the Pre-Movement Testing Sub-Group.
The proposal to be developed is that farmers will pay for pre-movement testing.
But in the absence of a wildlife reservoir.......