Successful applicants to receive government grant
The government has relaunched its badger-vaccination scheme as part of a package of new measures to prevent the transmission of bovine TB (bTB) in England.
The Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme, which opens for expressions of interest today (11 September), was suspended for two years following a global vaccine shortage. It will begin in Spring 2018 and successful applicants will receive a government grant for 50 per cent of their costs from a fund worth £700,000, over four years.
The government also announced the launch of a new bTB advisory service, that will provide practical advice to farmers on biosecurity and risk-based trading. It added that 11 additional licences for badger control will be granted to parts of Devon, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset and Cheshire. Licences have been granted for supplementary badger control in areas of Gloucestershire and Somerset which have completed their original four-year licences.
Farming minister George Eustice commented: “Bovine TB not only has a devastating impact on our beef and dairy farms, but causes harm and distress to infected cattle. We have a clear plan to eradicate the disease over the next 20 years and this year we are restarting the government-backed Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme to stop the disease spreading to new areas.
“Vaccination is just one part of our comprehensive strategy, which also includes tighter cattle controls, improved biosecurity and badger control in areas where bTB is rife to tackle the reservoir of disease in wildlife.
“While our eventual aim is to eradicate the disease completely, farmers are facing the reality of bTB on their farms every day, which is why we are also launching a new bTB Advisory Service to offer advice to all farmers on limiting on-farm disease risk.”
Chief vet Nigel Gibbens said: “Taking action to prevent bovine TB infection of cattle from the reservoir of disease in local badger populations is an essential part of the government’s 25-year strategy to eradicate the disease in England. Proactive badger control is currently the best available option and the licensing of further areas is necessary to realise disease control benefits across the High-Risk Area of England, rather than at local levels.”
The bTB advisory service will launch next month and farmers can pre-register their interest by email.