Sadly, cattle get culled in large numbers when Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) spreads and this is devastating for farmers. However, the Government is driving forward an ambitious strategy to eradicate bovine TB in England by 2038. This strategy sets out a range of evidence-led interventions to tackle the disease in both cattle and wildlife, including strengthening cattle testing and movement controls, introducing new help for herd owners to improve biosecurity measures on farms and to help manage down the risk of bringing the disease into their herds and supporting the deployment of badger vaccination.
As part of being free from bovine TB, I am aware that intensive badger culling in areas where badgers are a significant factor in spreading disease to cattle has been an important part of this. The culling of badgers has led to a significant reduction of bTB in cattle herds.
Developing new and better tools is an important part of the Government’s programme of work. The Government continues to fund major research, including on cattle vaccination and improved diagnostics. That funding has already resulted in a major breakthrough by the Animal and Plant Health Agency in developing a test that can differentiate TB-infected among vaccinated cattle (a DIVA test). World-leading vaccination trials in cattle began in England and Wales in June 2021. Ministers’ aim is to have a deployable TB vaccine for cattle within the next five years. This is an issue I will continue to follow closely.