January 8, 2016

Buckinghamshire Bovine TB Update

According to literature published by the British Veterinary Association in 2015, Bovine tuberculosis (bTb) is a “complex infection zoonotic disease” which can present a “significant risk to animal health and welfare”.

Described as “one of the UK’ most challenging animal health issues”, the words ‘Bovine Tb’ are all too familiar to Buckinghamshire farmers. Although, as a county, Buckinghamshire is considered an ‘Edge Area’, herds must be tested annually to ensure their health and wellbeing. It is estimated that the average cost to a farmer, per Tb test, is approximately ¬£2,000 which, suffice to say, this is a not insubstantial amount of money.

Earlier this month, John met with representatives from the National Farmers Union, along with local cattle farmers, at a farm near Bierton. The meeting provided the opportunity to update John on the current Tb situation in Buckinghamshire, and to air any concerns local farmers have about the testing process, Government support for farmers, badger culls and measures to prevent the ‘High Risk’ areas which neighbour Buckinghamshire from spreading to, or impacting, our local herds.

Speaking after the meeting, John said:
“As the MP for such a large, rural constituency, I am always the first to praise the Buckinghamshire farming community, and their contribution to our local, and national, economy. It is always wonderful to witness the support provided to local farmers by the NFU and this meeting was no exception.

“I am pleased to report that it was a most informative meeting and I look forward to working with the NFU to ensure that the concerns voiced here today are appropriately addressed by the relevant authorities.”

Mark Wheeler, Senior Agent at the NFU Mutual Aylesbury Agency, added:
“The meeting was a frank and honest summary of how Bovine Tuberculosis, and the testing parameters that government enforces, affects farmers in Bucks. Kim Simpkins, local veterinary farm expert, also explained how the disease had changed farming practices, and veterinary businesses over the last 20 years, exerting more pressure on some operations that are already stretched. With representation from the National Farmers Union, who set up and chaired the meeting, Mr Bercow was able to transfer the National messages received in Parliament to a local level, whilst standing amongst the cattle who had just undergone a routine test, in a small beef herd in Central Buckinghamshire.”