Farming News - New Bovine TB Partnership launched

New Bovine TB Partnership launched

11 Feb 2021
Frontdesk / Livestock

The Government’s newly formed Bovine TB Partnership held its inaugural meeting today (11 February), attended by Biosecurity Minister Lord Gardiner.

As part of the Government’s response to Professor Sir Charles Godfray’s review of the Government’s bTB Strategy, the Government has worked with industry and stakeholders to co-design the new bTB Partnership to encourage shared ownership, coordination and decision-making surrounding England’s 25 year bTB eradication strategy.

The group will be a driving force helping to progress the Government’s aim of eradicating the disease and absorbs the advisory function formerly performed by the bTB Eradication Advisory Group for England (TBEAG).

The Partnership is made up of members who have extensive experience and expertise in the farming industry, veterinary science, conservation and academia.

Biosecurity Minister Lord Gardiner said:

“The wealth of experience and expertise brought to the table by this new Partnership will be invaluable in helping to achieve the Government’s ambition to eradicate bTB from this country by 2038.

“We have made extensive progress in tackling this disease to date and I look forward to working closely with the group to build on this progress, ensuring that this disease is eradicated as quickly and effectively as possible.”

Bovine TB Partnership Chair and experienced Norfolk farmer John Cross said:

“We have 17 years of the 25 year TB Strategy left, the timeline is ambitious as it should be, and I am really anticipating that the high calibre of this new Partnership will give TB eradication a real boost.

“We have a large, broadly based group here that represents an amazing collective intellect to pitch against this disease, with a positive forward looking , science based approach. If we all work in true partnership this pathogen will be defeated.”

The Partnership will:

  • Contribute to setting strategic direction of the bTB disease eradication programme, helping to identify priorities, and address specific opportunities, risks and issues, as an integral part of the bTB Programme’s governance.
  • Help set standards, monitor progress, and identify where new approaches might be needed.
  • Co-design potential new policies and communications.
  • Help to identify new evidence sources/requirements and ideas and captures wider views to inform discussion as needed.
  • Engage widely to advocate agreed bTB policy to a range of stakeholders.
  • Encourage formation of and work closely with local groups and create opportunities for stakeholders/local groups to work together.
  • Engage with developments in wider domestic agriculture policy, helping to build understanding of the potential implications for future disease control and helping to influence the design of future policy to benefit the goals of the bTB Strategy.
  • Provide expert advice to government on policy matters and implementation.

A work plan will be devised by the Partnership to establish the priorities for the coming year.

The full terms of reference and members of the Partnership can be found here.

The Government is currently consulting on the next phase of its strategy to eradicate bTB in England by 2038. This follows the Government’s response to the Godfray Review which set out plans to phase out intensive culling in the next few years, and outlined the need to continue tackling infection in both cattle and wildlife. It also set out priorities that include a transition to badger vaccination, accelerating work to develop a deployable cattle vaccination and improving diagnostic testing. The consultation can be accessed here.

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said: “It’s critical that the government continues to consult with British farmers on its 25-year bovine TB eradication strategy and I’m pleased that the NFU has been invited onto this group.

“The impact of bovine TB on farming families across the country is enormous, with thousands of farms experiencing the emotional, mental and financial strain it places on families and businesses. That’s why I’m pleased that there are several farmers on the group who have first-hand experience of the impacts of this terrible disease.

“With the government currently consulting on the future direction of its strategy, it is important that the progress made to date in reducing bovine TB on farm is recognised. The strategy must remain focused on effective measures that can ultimately deliver a TB free England.”