New fraud in cattle TB testing – Badger Trust press release

As two Governments in the UK debate whether to kill badgers as part of their programmes to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (bTB), another farmer has been convicted of switching ear tags to save an infected pedigree animal [1].

The Badger Trust repeats its demand made after the last switching scandal in April [2] for all plans to kill badgers in England and Wales to be abandoned until the cattle industry and Defra have cleared up serious doubts about the scale of such crimes. Claims by agriculture industry organisations that only “some” farmers are involved are clearly optimistic with five counties in the Midlands and the South West of England and now Powys implicated.

Defra’s sudden, massive and expensive response to the scandal of farmers switching ear tags to foil bovine TB (bTB) controls suggests these crimes are widespread rather than local. In view of the urgency vets offered their services free for six months to gather samples. The Badger Trust emphasises the possible outcomes: a diseased animal could infect other animals, some of these could be sold to other uninfected farms, a sick animal could then be sent to market and to shows to mix with many others and then be sold into another herd. Tuberculosis is not like influenza. It can remain dormant between tests that can be up to four years apart. The scale of these cattle-based problems vastly outweighs any possible contribution by badgers. Bovine tuberculosis will continue to be difficult to eradicate without universal annual testing and tighter movement controls, despite the economic consequences. Killing badgers is not an alternative.The Trust has also asked Ministers [3] about the extent of the criminal activity, and Mr Jim Paice, the agriculture and food Minister, replied: “Our concern is that the ‘suspicious’ reactors were sent from different farms in different parts of the country (in the South West and Midlands), indicating that the suspected fraudulent behaviour is not restricted to one or two connected farm businesses. Because of the worrying findings from Gloucestershire, additional slaughterhouse surveys have been initiated in Cornwall, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire. We are closely monitoring the findings from these. We will also be identifying high risk herds to target AHVLA inspections where there is evidence of suspicious ear tag ordering”.

Contact Jack Reedy
01564 783129
0775 173 1107

[1] Emyr Jones Evans of Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa, near Llanfyllin, Powys admitted six offences after the identities of cattle were swapped. He was sentenced at Mold to a 12 months’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months and was placed on supervision for a year and ordered to pay £28,900 costs.
2] An investigation instigated by Gloucestershire Trading Standards exposed the switching of ear tags when reviewing TB cattle sent to two slaughterhouses. As a result, infected animals were being retained in herds.
[3] The Trust wrote to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Mr James Paice, Minister of State (Agriculture and Food) in April and Mr Paice’s office replied. The text of these letters is available from staff@badgertrust.org.uk

Badger Trust is the only charity dedicated to the conservation of badgers throughout England, Wales and all Ireland.
PO Box 708, EAST GRINSTEAD, RH19 2WN
Tel: 08458 287878 Fax: 02380 233896
E-mail press@badgertrust.org.uk www.badgertrust.org.uk
Registered charity no.1111440
Company registered in the UK No.5460677

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