A £5.7 million funding package to help farmers tackle a damaging cattle disease has been announced by the farming minister, George Eustice today.
The highly contagious disease, bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD), costs UK farmers an estimated £60 million per year, impacting animal welfare within affected herds and reduces farm productivity and profitability.
Available in England for three years through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), the funding will enable farmers to apply for one-to-one farm advisory visits by a veterinary practitioner.
The vets will work with keepers of breeding cattle to tackle BVD on their farms.
The programme will also pull together new ‘clusters’ of cattle keepers to work together against BVD, by sharing best practice and tackle this disease as a group of like-minded individuals who share the goal of eradicating BVD from their herds.
Farming minister, George Eustice MP said: “This is a damaging disease that has a real impact on productivity, cattle health and welfare.
“This funding presents an opportunity for farmers to get help in tackling BVD, improving cattle performance and reducing cost and anti-microbial use.”
Christine Middlemiss, UK Chief Veterinary Officer said: “The Rural Development Programme funding provides a brilliant opportunity to tackle BVD.
“This new scheme will include support for farm visits, screening cattle for disease, vet training, and the formation of local cluster groups.”
She added: “I encourage farmers and vets to sign up to this fantastic opportunity.”
The project is being delivered by SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College, under the title of ‘Stamp out BVD’, who will recruit local vets to offer the programme to farmers on the ground. It is larger than any previous BVD project in England in terms of both funding and scope, and offers a comprehensive package to farmers.
Neil Carter, Project Manager at SAC Consulting, said: “BVD is a costly disease, often affecting business performance without a full understanding of the implications.
“Following on from our successful delivery of a similar programme in Scotland, this project is a great opportunity for cattle farmers across the whole of England to get support from their vet to investigate the disease at farm level, with some funding available for testing, enabling them to improve business output and reduce the disease nationally.”