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MP calls for clarification on Bovine TB plans


30th June 2011

Harriett Baldwin has sought clarification on Government plans to combat the threat of bovine TB.

The MP questioned Agriculture Minister Jim Paice on the latest research on the spread of the disease in the county and plans to help farmers combat the disease in their herds.

The Minister told the House of Commons that Departmental figures revealed ‘an increase in the number of new herds disclosed with TB in Hereford and Worcester in 2010 compared with 2009, and a corresponding increase in herd incidence over the same period.’

Harriett told the Minister: “Wildlife in my constituency is suffering from tuberculosis, a lingering death. Cattle are being slaughtered, and farmers are lying awake at night worried that their herd might be next.”

The Minister said that a statement on Departmental plans to deal with the spread of bovine TB is due later this month (July). He added: “The status quo, do-nothing agenda is not acceptable. Calculations show that if we do nothing and things stay as they are, it will cost the taxpayer £1 billion over the next 10 years.”

FULL TEXT

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire) (Con): What recent assessment she has made of the spread of bovine tuberculosis in wildlife in the West Worcestershire constituency; and if she will make a statement. [62887]

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr James Paice): The most recent information we have is from the randomised badger-culling trial, in which badgers were culled annually in an area west of Malvern between 2002 and 2005. The average TB prevalence in badgers culled in that area was then 28%. We also know that TB in cattle is linked to TB in wildlife. I can tell my hon. Friend that there was an increase in the number of new herds disclosed with TB in Hereford and Worcester in 2010 compared with 2009, and a corresponding increase in herd incidence over the same period.

Harriett Baldwin: Wildlife in my constituency is suffering from tuberculosis, a lingering death. Cattle are being slaughtered, and farmers are lying awake at night worried that their herd might be next. Will the Minister update us on what further steps the Government could take to bring the disease under control?

Mr Paice: My hon. Friend is right to stress the need for further policies to control TB. As I said earlier, we will make announcements fairly soon—before the House rises, we hope—on our proposals regarding badgers, and about wider cattle-to-cattle measures. I assure my hon. Friend and the House that the status quo, do-nothing agenda is not acceptable. Calculations show that if we do nothing and things stay as they are, it will cost the taxpayer £1 billion over the next 10 years.

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