Farmers flouting bovine TB rules may face penalties

The virus was found in a consignment of cattle from France

Financial restrictions designed to discourage farmers from flouting the rules on bovine TB have been proposed by the Scottish Government.

The suggested changes are intended to safeguard Scotland’s official TB-free status and are contained in a government consultation which closes on November 30.

Proposals include not paying farmers the full market value for their animals if they fail to abide by the regulations. A cap on all individual compensation payments has also been proposed.

At present compensation is paid at full market value to the owner of any animal slaughtered because of TB and this includes animals that have moved on to a restricted herd and then go on to become TB reactors.

No measure exists to reduce or withhold payment where the owner has acted irresponsibly and illegally and moved cattle on to an infected premises without a licence. The proposed amendment would provide the powers to reduce or withhold compensation in these cases.

The government is also proposing to follow Wales in introducing a cap on compensation on individual animals which will reduce it from £15,000 to £5,000 from October. England is consulting on a taking a similar step. The Scottish consultation suggests the owners of high value animals should explore insurance options to cover any value which is in excess of £5,000.

NFU Scotland animal health policy officer Penny Middleton said bovine TB had been causing high levels of concern in some regions and there had been calls from some looking for a tightening of the rules on high-risk cattle movements.