Farming and Environment minister Jane Kennedy has responded to the National Audit Office (NAO) Report on Animal Health by revealing that DEFRA is to focus on “bee health” and the “eventual eradication” of bovine TB.

In response to the report, Ms Kennedy said: “I welcome the NAO report which will inform our important work in this area.

“I am grateful that the good work of DEFRA and its agencies in controlling the exotic disease outbreaks of FMD (2007) and avian ‘flu (recent) has been acknowledged by the NAO. Our success with certain endemic diseases such as BSE, scrapie and salmonella has also been recorded. However, the NAO have drawn to the continuing problems with bovine TB and the impact of the Varroa mite on bees.

“We are committed to tackling bovine TB and have agreed with industry that the Bovine TB Eradication Group for England will review the current TB strategy and develop a plan for eventual eradication. Their work will inform the eradication plan required by the EC. Improving bee health is another key priority and we will bring forward a strategy urgently following the recent announcement of an additional £4.3 million funding.

“We will now consider this report in detail before responding more fully.”

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