To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to accelerate the implementation of a badger vaccination strategy alongside improved cattle testing, the roll out of a cattle vaccine and stricter movement of cattle.
29 November 2021
As set out in the Government response to Professor Sir Charles Godfray’s review of the Government’s strategy for achieving Officially Bovine Tuberculosis Free status for England, the next phase of the strategy focuses on developing a deployable cattle vaccine, wider rollout of badger vaccination and improvements to TB testing.
Badger culling will not be halted immediately – as set out in the Government’s response to the January 2021 consultation, no new intensive cull licences will be issued after 2022 and new supplementary badger culling licences have been limited to a maximum of two years. Culling would remain an option where epidemiological assessment indicates that it is needed.
We have awarded funding for a five-year badger vaccination programme in East Sussex. The scheme, which will see vaccination deployed by the farming community, will help refine future delivery models for deploying large-scale farmer-led vaccination schemes. We are also undertaking Government-funded badger vaccination in an area where four-year intensive badger culling has ended. We are continuing to bolster our capability to deploy even more badger vaccination in post-cull areas from 2022.
Developing a deployable cattle TB vaccine, with the objective of introduction within the next five years, is one of the Government’s priorities. In 2021, world-leading bovine TB cattle vaccination trials began in England and Wales.
A change from annual to six-monthly routine surveillance testing of cattle herds was introduced in the High Risk Area (HRA) counties of Shropshire and Staffordshire in September 2020 and was extended to the rest of the HRA from July 2021. Herds in the HRA that meet certain risk criteria can remain on annual surveillance testing. In addition, in July 2021 criteria for mandatory use of the more sensitive, supplementary interferon gamma blood test were changed in order to include new breakdown herds in the HRA with lesion and/or culture positive animals that were officially TB free (OTF) for less than eighteen months, following a previous breakdown with lesion and/or culture positive animals. A number of other options for improving the effectiveness of cattle testing, including pre- and post-movement testing, are currently being considered.