Cattle slaughter rise points to TB "national crisis"
Ministers have labelled the spread of tuberculosis in cattle a "national crisis" after official figures today showed more than 28,000 cattle with the disease were slaughtered last year.
The rural South West has the largest concentration of the disease in the country, destroying the livelihoods of farmers across the region.
The slaughter of 28,284 cattle in England in 2012 represented a 7% increase compared to 2011. In Devon, 6,535 cattle were killed, 3,257 in Cornwall, 2,014 in Somerset and 1,192 in Dorset.
Farming Minister David Heath said: "Bovine TB continues to spread at an unacceptable rate, leading to the slaughter of thousands of cattle and ongoing misery for our dairy farmers.
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"What was once confined to a small area of the South West has the potential to become a national crisis and if left unchecked could cost the taxpayer £1billion over the next ten years."
The Government recently confirmed two culls of badgers this year – one in Somerset, the other in Gloucestershire – as part of a package of measures to control the disease, which is opposed by Labour an animal welfare organisations.
Full story in tomorrow's Western Morning News