Local Member of Parliament Geoffrey Cox has renewed pressure on the Government to tackle the continuing problem of Bovine TB. Leading a delegation of farmers and NFU representatives from across Torridge and West Devon to a meeting with Minister for Animal Welfare, Ben Bradshaw MP, this afternoon Mr Cox said:
“We were able to convey to Ben Bradshaw a sense of the powerful feelings of Torridge and West Devon’s farmers about the failure of the Government to summon the courage to take the hard but necessary decisions needed to save livestock farming in areas most intensely affected by Bovine TB. Mr Bradshaw listened but gave no sign that the Government, while privately recognising the need to deal with the disease in wildlife, would not play politics with the issues and continue to prevaricate and postpone the inevitable decision.”
“We also raised the knock-on effects of Bovine TB- the inadequacy of the tabular valuations for animals of high genetic merit, the costs of Pre-Movement Testing- burdens which fall heavily on farmers and which were imposed against a background of a promise to tackle all aspects of the disease. We made a powerful case to Mr Bradshaw that tabular valuations must be revisited to achieve greater fairness and that the cost of Pre-Movement Testing must not fall exclusively on the farmers.”
Mr Cox comments coincided with the publication a report detailing the precarious state of British farming, which concludes that “A viable UK farming sector is ‘very close’ to being lost forever,” and come hard on the heels of his challenge, in the House of Commons, last week on the Government’s failings over the administration of Single Farm Payments and Hill Farm Subsidies. (See note 3 below).
Geoffrey Cox continued:
“Exactly one year ago I said that it would be irresponsible for the Government to continue to ignore the urgent necessity of, among other measures, taking action to tackle the reservoir of infection in the wildlife population. A year later, a consultation has been held, and seemingly buried, an additional £30-40million has been wasted, around 25,000 animals have been compulsorily slaughtered and still the Government has no coherent policy to eradicate, or even control, Bovine TB, but rather continues indefinitely to spend hundreds of millions of pounds of public money not curing the disease.”
3 July 2006