HC Deb 02 November 1966 vol 735 cc96-7W
Mr. Kitson

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will give further details of his proposals for brucellosis eradication.

Mr. Peart

Following my announcement on 26th July of the Government's intention to introduce a scheme for the eradication of brucellosis, discussions have been held with a number of interested organisations.

The first step is to build up a register of brucella-free herds to provide a reservoir of disease-free replacements. A serological survey made in 1964 showed that then about 14 per cent. of adult female cattle would react to the diagnostic tests available. Many of these will react because of vaccination by Strain 19 and not because of infection. It is quite impracticable to slaughter such a large proportion of the female cattle in this country. The cattle that react because of vaccination are no risk to health and are capable of giving profitable service for the rest of their lives. It is essential for time to be given to allow most of these animals to live out the rest of their working lives, and this is the reason for the gradual approach to the problem of eradication.

The first stage—the establishment of a voluntary register of brucella-free herds—will start as soon as the necessary arrangements have been made, including the provision of extra laboratory equipment, printing of forms, preparation of detailed instructions to staff, etc.

All testing will be carried out on behalf of the Ministry. Herds that have passed all preliminary tests will be registered as "supervised". At that stage, a final test will be made and compensation will be paid for any reactors found and slaughtered. The herd owner, of course, will have to abide by certain conditions relating to fencing, to purchase of cattle amongst other matters, designed to minimise the risk of any further infection.

After a sufficient number of herds have been entered on to the voluntary register, and time has elapsed from animals reacting to the tests because of vaccination to be culled in the normal process of husbandry, consideration will be given to compulsory eradication area by area.

A copy of the outline of the scheme which is being sent to the Farmers' Unions and other interested organisations is being placed in the Library.