Incentives for farmers to implement biosecurity actions to reduce the bovine TB risk to their herds is one of the recommendations in the TB Forum Report.
A single point of contact in the regional Department of Agriculture structure, for herd owners affected by bTB breakdowns, is also recommended.
TB blackspot action plans, and a continued and enhanced focus on the risk posed by badgers should be put in place, said the Forum, which also warned that deer must not be allowed to become a maintenance host for TB.
The Forum noted that farmers are already empowered to cull deer on their land, or to get deer hunters to do this for them.
Enhanced support was recommended for the 300-500 herds currently not restricted but which have a chronic history of severe bTB, or a pattern of repeated breakdowns.
On the controversial topic of risk-based categorisation of herds, the Forum said the Department already does this, but risk categories should be revised, to be simple, clear, and conveying sufficient information to enable farmers to make the decisions appropriate to their situation.
Without an effective risk categorisation system, risk-based bTB controls cannot be implemented as effectively, noted the Forum, which envisaged printing the risk category on bTB-related correspondence to farmers.
This preliminary report by the TB Forum on disease and governance policy will be followed by a report on costs and benefits which is deferred pending the completion of a third-party review of this element.
A single point of contact in the regional Department of Agriculture structure, for herdowners affected by bTB breakdowns, is also recommended.