UK - Half of England is expected to be declared free of bovine TB by 2019.
And the badger cull as part of the measures to eradicate bovine TB in England is to be extended beyond the three areas in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Dorset in 2015.
Speaking at the National Farmers’ Union conference in Birmingham on Tuesday (23 February), Environment Secretary Liz Truss said the culling will be expanded across a wider number of areas this year.
“Bovine TB is the biggest threat we face and I am 100 per cent committed to defeating it,” Mrs Truss said.
“Our comprehensive 25 year strategy is making progress.”
She added: “That success is in large part due to the efforts of farmers, who have gone out night after night, often in the face of blatant intimidation, to make the badger cull a success.
“But this is no time to ease off. I want to see culling expanded across a wider number of areas this year.
“The Chief Veterinary Officer’s advice is that this is the only way to secure the full benefits of our comprehensive strategy.”
The Environment Secretary added that the TB advisory service fund will be expanded to be made available throughout high risk for the disease and edge areas.
“Whatever our opponents may say, we know we are doing the right thing,” she said.
“We are pursuing a strategy that has worked in Australia and is working in Ireland and New Zealand.
“We will not rest until we have eradicated this devastating disease.”
In his speech opening the conference, the NFU president Meurig Raymond applauded the measures that had been taken to control and eradicate bovine TB.
And he said that 28 areas had registered an interest in operating a cull in England where TB is rife.
“Let us see a wider roll out and let us see it this year,” Mr Raymond said.
“Next year let’s move away from isolated pockets. Let’s see culling across wide swathes of our most infected areas.”
Mr Raymond said that in Wales there has been a 25 per cent increase in the number of cattle being slaughtered because of bovine TB.
Now the badger vaccination programme in Wales has been cancelled.
“But badger vaccination in a TB endemic area of Wales was never going to eradicate the disease,” he said.
Mr Raymond called on the Welsh government to turn its attention to eradicating the disease in the wildlife population as well as cattle.