Monday, July 16, 2007

A 280 per cent rise ...

We are grateful for sight of a press release from the office of Daniel Kawczynski, the member of parliament for Shrewsbury, who has seen an 'amplifying' problem with bovine tb in his constituency. In 2000 the area revealed 39 new herd incidents among its cattle herds. But a parliamentary question answered this week shows that there were 149 NHIs during 2006. And that is just over the 20 per cent per annum rise in incidence predicted by Defra - which would produced a figure of 140 herds.


Shrewsbury & Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski, and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Dairy Group will this week announce plans for the All Party Group to assess the difficulties faced by farmers over Bovine Tuberculosis.

The renewed efforts on this front come after the recent government report that was less conclusive in its prescription over how to deal with badgers in the spread of bTB than had been expected, and puts much of the onus on farmers to act. In addition Mr Kawczynski recently tabled a question over bTB in his own constituency county of Shropshire. The results where startling.

The Parliamentary Question answered that in 2006 there where 149 new herd bTB incidents, compared to only 39 in 2000. This is over a 280% increase in new incidents. Mr Kawczynski MP commented ‘this is not a sign that the governments current policy is working. Further more it is of great concern that over these last six years the incidents have increased so dramatically, this cannot be due to farmers alone, as they are complying with the strict DEFRA regulations.’

He continued ‘It is my understanding that Shropshire, and the South West are hardest hit by the bTB outbreaks, but increasing like this how long is it before it spreads further? A solution has to be sought, and soon, that is more than just further regulations on the cattle industry. As a result I will be looking into bTB over the summer recess, and the APPG on Dairy Farming will be taking a further look into the matter in the Autumn in direct relation to the dairy industry, and lobbying the Government for action.’


The PQ in question can be found through Hansard at, reference number [147671] answered on the 12th of July 2007.

This is a successor to PQs asked during 2004, which invited the previous Minister of State to assess the incidence of TB in cattle in 2008, assuming no increase in activity by her department and the continuance of Defra's current (non) measures.
The answer then was:
"With no new changes in policy, or disease dynamics, we would theoretically expect a 20 percent year on year increase in the compensation bill."

That PQ answer went on to describe measures to reduce compensation paid for slaughtered cattle, with 'rationalised compensation payments', without actually spelling out that the numbers of cattle slaughtered would not alter, only the amount for which Defra were prepared to compulsorily purchase them. Neither did the answer satisfactorily address the cost of that 20 percent year on year increase of extra testing, tuberculin antigen, transport, slaughter, post mortems, samples, tracing and associated paperwork. All of which would very quickly eat up any saving in the one third of the Tb budget aimed at 'compensation'.

PQ 26th Jan 2004 Col 3W [148657]

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