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Plea for help to halt bovine TB

25 March 2009 - BBC News

Church leaders, farmers and rural campaigners have called on the Government to halt a deepening spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in Devon. They have written an open letter to Defra minister Hilary Benn, pleading with him to find a solution. They say the disease is causing misery to thousands of farmers in Devon, bringing many to the edge of despair.

The letter, written by John Lee, chairman of the Devon County Agricultural Association, expresses "acute concern" over the "dramatic increase" in outbreaks continuing and growing impact of bovine TB on both individual farmers and the rural community of Devon as a whole. It has been signed by the Devon County Agricultural Association and some church groups.

In the letter, Mr Lee wrote: "We urge you to take immediate and decisive action, Devon simply cannot wait any longer. At a time when there is growing concern about food security we simply cannot afford to go on killing productive cattle at a cost of millions of pounds to the taxpayer, and posing a very real threat to the future viability of the county's beef and dairy industry."

Next year badgers in the wild are to be vaccinated against bovine tuberculosis. The vaccine is to be tested in six areas in England where cattle are badly affected by the disease, ahead of a national programme of vaccination starting in summer 2010.

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