Thursday, January 02, 2014

New testing rules for 2014

Today, Farmers Guardian's Alistair Driver describes Defra's new 'stick but no carrot' - [link] approach to TB tests which may be a day or two late on a desk jockey's computer print out.

These dates are now 'shared' with the RPA (Rural Payments Agency) who will dutifully deduct up to 5 per cent of any payments owed to the farm concerned. The full list is in FG's article.

 Commenting on the new rules, agricultural lawyer David Kirwan remarked that:
" Penalties would bring ‘further misery to cattle farmers already unjustly punished by Bovine TB regulations’.

Mr Kirwan, head of the agricultural unit at law firm Kirwans, said:

“This is the latest in a seemingly relentless series of punitive administrative and financially swingeing measures on farming families. Farmers need practical support not a bullying, stick-wielding master hell bent on inflicting more misery and hardship. It is an already over-regulated industry. This will make financial conditions even more difficult, prompting some farmers to quit beef and dairy production.”                     

He stressed TB testing was important but added that ‘common sense and flexibility over paperwork and deadlines is also important’.
With all of that, we would agree.
And it's also important to point out that TB testing cattle is not always a simple procedure, or one with which they willingly comply. Apart from bumps, bruises, trapped fingers, strains and sprains which are the inevitable result of shoving and jostling 800 kg where it would rather not go, during 2013, two farmers lost their lives while TB testing their own cattle.

One in Wales a year ago - [link] and the second a farmer from Shropshire, in December. - [link]

So to all our cattle (or sheep, pigs, alpaca and deer) farming readers; please be careful while complying with Defra's New Year present of non negotiable extras to the eradication of zoonotic Tuberculosis.

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