The bovine TB problem won’t be resolved as long as we continue to use the archaic and unreliable cattle skin test, which does not differentiate between diseased animals and ‘inconclusive reactors’.
As we have learned, this means that a proportion of cattle being slaughtered are not ill, not carriers, and some are immune.
Additionally, the skin test sometimes fails to detect animals in the advanced stages of the disease which is when they are at the highest risk of spreading bTB.
The costs of this test, slaughter, and compensation regime are astronomical and far exceed the income from exports for having bovine TB free status.
To cap it all we import far more meat than we export, and a lot from non-bovine TB free countries.
We have been using this testing system for 50 years and have not managed to eradicate bovine TB.
In what other Government department would such a flawed, expensive and wasteful policy be tolerated for so long? It is hard to believe that our chief vets and politicians allow this to go on.
Farmers are being crippled by ill-informed and stubborn bureaucracy. They have to bear the brunt of an ineffective and heartbreaking system, while our decision-makers let supermarkets and multinationals manipulate the markets, which undermine them even further.
It would make sense for us to instruct our public servants — the people we elect and pay — to begin the process of changing the whole unworkable system so that we can vaccinate cows and manage TB in the farming world as we do in the human population.
We need to vaccinate badgers while we are waiting for a cattle vaccine and effective test to be approved.
Testing will become irrelevant, no more cattle or wildlife will be needlessly slaughtered, and farmers and taxpayers will be saved huge amounts of grief, time and money.