Farmer David Barton

Dialog is Essential

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Dialog is Essential

It’s been a while since my last post, and we are near to our next 60 day bTB test on the 17thNov reading on the 20th all with the usual anxiety.

My neighbour had a devastating bTB test recently, losing 22 cattle 17 in calf cows 4 calves and 1 stock bull. I know from personal experience just how devastating this will have been for him and his family, it’s just awful. This happened in a group of just over 40 cattle that have shared the same grazing this summer along with wildlife.

This is an all too familiar story happening all too often and largely under reported. We must take all steps to stop this happening. From a farming point of view, we have many restrictions and controls with cattle as part of the Government’s 25yr stratergy and this is largely correct. However, it is absolutely not correct not to tackle the disease in wildlife at the same time.

I am keen to see all options to help control bTB, and I recently visited Professor Elizabeth Wellington at Warwick University to see the work she has done on a PCR test to detect bTB from various sources in the environment, I was very impressed and believe this could be a very useful tool to help detect bTB in cattle and wildlife. I very much hope the” powers that be” will take this forward , and evaluate it within the guidelines Prof Wellington has developed.
At the end of this month I have a meeting with Minister George Eustice MP & Neil Parish Chairman of the EFFERA committee , I am grateful to both of them for making the time and look forward to a constructive meeting. In early December I have a meeting in Brussels with the Commission team who are part of DG Health and Food Safety, Directorate G, Veterinary and International Affairs .My thanks to Julie Girling MEP who has been most helpful in arranging this. I always enter meetings on bTB with an open mind and optimism, sometimes this is shattered sometimes it’s not. Good dialog with all is essential to move forward, and we really do need to move forward now as a matter of urgency.

I very much look forward to this year’s results from Gloucestershire and Somerset Pilots and also the new roll out area in Dorset, I know how much time and effort goes in to making them safe, humane and efficient, this is such an important part of the 25yr plan and needs to be employed much wider across the Southwest and other areas where bTB is endemic.

I am particularly concerned about the abrupt changes to Orange Markets by DEFRA, with no consultation with the industry. Has anyone looked at how this could affect farmers under bTB restriction? And if it has been necessary to make any changes at all. Does someone look at data to see if there is a real risk here or is it just meddling for the sake of it. It’s worth remembering that farmers are placed under bTB restriction through no fault of their own. It’s imperative those farmers placed under bTB restriction have an outlet to sell stock in a fair market. There are times when stock needs to be sold for welfare reasons if housing is short, etc. .The ability to be able to take your own stock home if its unsold, is I believe essential. This would have happened very few times but it keeps the market for cattle under bTB restrictions honest .

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