192. The Government must show its commitment to
finding a way to ease the grip that cattle TB has upon the country.
To do this, its policy must be to reverse in the short term the
rising level of incidence of the disease with a long term goal
of eradication through the use of vaccines.
193. The Government must continue to fund research
into vaccines and the efficacy of biosecurity measures. It must
also continue not only to fund the routine testing of cattle,
but must examine carefully the benefits of increasing the frequency
of testing and the introduction of the parallel use of gamma interferon
testing alongside the tuberculin skin test.
194. More frequent and thorough testing will lead
in the short term to an increase in the number of cattle reactors
that are found and slaughtered.
195. The Government must re-consider the levels
of compensation currently paid to farmers and must ensure that
it does not shirk its responsibility to pay farmers a fair price
for their cattle.
196. The Government cannot countenance the reduction
of its spending on the disease at this stage given the advice
from the ISG that current cattle controls are not stringent enough.
Defra must ensure that a cost benefit analysis (including farmers'
costs and benefits) is prepared of the cattle-based measures recommended
by the ISG and its agencies to ensure that it is able to plan
for the proper levels of expenditure needed to fulfil its cattle
197. To match the Government's commitment to fight
the disease, it is right that farmers may be asked to increase
their own spending on pre- and post-movement testing and on-farm
biosecurity measures. We acknowledge that this could mean an additional
financial burden for farmers, as well as an unwelcome increase
in the time and effort already spent by farmers and vets on the
administrative burden demanded by the testing regime. The farming
industry is already suffering from the financial and emotional
consequences of the steady increase in the number of cattle TB
breakdowns, but it must work together with the Government, veterinarians
and scientists to monitor the outcome of measures taken to tackle
the disease if we are to plug the fundamental gaps in our understanding
of how cattle TB is transmitted.
198. We have recommended that the culling of badgers
in high risk areas should in principle be licensed under the Protection
of Badgers Act to counter the spread of cattle TB provided that
the licensee is able to fulfil conditions based on the findings
of the ISG Report. The Government must provide a practical framework
of guidelines for Natural England as the licensing authority.
The farming industry must accept that the Government is unlikely
to fund the culling of badgers as a method of tackling the wildlife
reservoir. Whilst the farming industry is likely to have to bear
the costs of any cull if it chooses to go down that road, farmers
must also accept that culling, in accordance with the conditions
agreed between the ISG and Sir David King, cannot become the cornerstone
of a Government TB policy as it would not be suitable as a control
method in all areas. Other cattle-based measures, including vaccines,
must be employed and that is where the focus of the Government's
spending should be in future.