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More Work To Be Done On TB Management Plan

MAF officials and the Animal Health Board will carry out further work on the review of the National Bovine TB strategy before it would be notified, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

In October this year, the Animal Health Board presented a proposal to the Mr Sutton for a major increase in funding for a ten-year strategy aimed at achieving official freedom from Bovine TB.

Mr Sutton said the Government supported the objective of achieving freedom from Bovine TB, but had questions about the expenditure levels proposed by the board, and whether the achievement of the Bovine TB freedom objective within ten years was realistic.

He said the Government accepted that more money needed to be spent on the Bovine TB strategy and was committed to an increase in Crown expenditure.

"But we do have questions about how much that increase should be and how fast we should try to go. A 12-year, or 15-year strategy, might be equally acceptable."

Mr Sutton said the protection of our international trading position was paramount and the Government had to consider how best to achieve that.

"I have directed MAF and Treasury officials to do further work with the Animal Health Board and its stakeholders to present me with a revised proposal as soon as possible."

The current Bovine TB strategy expires on 1 July 2001, but Mr Sutton said existing legal arrangements could be extended, provided a revised strategy was notified before that date.

Mr Sutton said he also wanted reassurance that the Bovine TB control programme was being managed as efficiently as possible.

The budget for Bovine TB vector control for the current year is $38.4m, of which the Crown contributes $20.3m. The balance comes from farmers and regional authorities. A further $17.7 million a year is spent on Bovine TB disease control, funded by farmers.

The Animal Health Board has proposed an increase in total programme expenditure to $85 m per year with a Crown contribution of $39.7m (figures GST excl).

AHB Acting Chairman Alan Pollock said the Board welcomed Government's commitment to the goal of freedom from Bovine TB.

"Although we have been making good progress towards that goal in recent years, it is very clear an increased effort is needed to maintain progress and to achieve our goal.

"I expect there will be some disappointment that our original proposal will not be notified but with all parties including Government now committed to the objective of official freedom from Bovine TB at the earliest practical date and to the increased funding that this entails, we will now work through the changes required to put together a strategy and a time frame that all the partners are comfortable with."


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