PROPOSALS to tighten existing disease control measures for bovine TB have been put out for consultation by the Scottish Government.

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “The Scottish Government is committed to maintaining our current low level of TB and safeguard our Official TB Free status. It only seems fair that, where a keeper has broken rules, that they should not then be able to recover the full market value for their animals that are slaughtered as a result of poor farming practices or non-compliance.

"We are therefore looking for views as to whether further measures to encourage Scottish farmers to follow good farming practices and keep diseases out of their herds are required.

“This makes sense particularly at a time when both DEFRA and the Welsh Government have introduced, or are in the process of consulting on, substantial changes to their respective TB programmes, as it highlights the need for us to ensure that our own controls and compensation arrangements continue to incentivise compliance and best practice," said Mr Ewing.

“We know that the vast majority of farmers abide by the rules and continue to work with us to maintain the currently low levels of TB in Scotland. I would encourage anyone with an interest in this area to participate in this consultation by the deadline of 30 November 2017.”

NFU Scotland policy manager Penny Middleton commented: “NFUS welcomes this recent publication and will be consulting widely with its membership on the proposals.

"Bovine TB has been causing high levels of concern in some regions and we have had calls from some members looking for a tightening of the rules on high risk cattle movements. We recognise the concerns surrounding the risk of losing our officially TB free status and it is a subject that we had already planned to discuss at upcoming committee meetings to look at measures that might be considered to help discourage higher risk activity.

"NFUS will be looking closely at the proposals and looking for feedback from our members. It is not possible to comment further until that process has been completed but we will be responding and may have some further suggestions we would also like considered.”