Thank you for contacting me about the badger cull and controlling the spread of bovine TB.
The UK’s bovine TB eradication strategy, which includes a policy of regular testing and removal of infected cattle from herds, is one that is founded in science and experience. It applies the lessons of previous attempts to control the disease, as well as evidence from other countries around the world.
I have been encouraged by the steps the Government has taken to control the spread of bovine TB following the review by Sir Charles Godfray in 2018, setting out clear steps in how the Government was going to stop the disease.
Firstly, the Government has made funding available to accelerate the research and trial work needed with the aim of having a deployable vaccine that provides full protection in the next five years.
Secondly, and alongside this, an exit strategy from the culling of badgers will begin. As soon as possible, a pilot Government-funded badger vaccination will be introduced in at least one area where the four-year cull cycle has concluded, with simultaneous surveillance of disease. The aim is to only allow future culls where the evidence points to a significant reservoir of Bovine TB in badgers.
Finally, the Government will invest in the deployment of better, more frequent and more diverse cattle testing so that we are able to detect the presence of the disease earlier and remove it from cattle herds faster. I am pleased that world-leading bovine TB cattle vaccination trials are also set to get underway in England and Wales as a result of a breakthrough by Government scientists. These trials enable work to accelerate towards the planned deployment of a cattle vaccine by 2025.
While there is no single answer to tackling the scourge of bovine TB, the Government hopes that by deploying a wide range of policy interventions, we can turn the tide on this highly damaging animal disease.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking