Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is an infectious disease of cattle (Bos primigenius) caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis. You might choose to follow the ‘tuberculosis’ tag on my blog.
Last month, here in Britain our Department for Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) released data about the cost of slaughtering cows infected or believed to have been infected with bTB over the last five years.
That document tells us that, during those years, the bill for compensation payments to farmers has been about £30 million per year, plus over £1 million for haulage, slaughter and disposal. That’s not trivial. But it hasn’t been changing dramatically.
On the other hand, DEFRA is recouping (getting back) far more money from the slaughtered cattle, each year, than it did five years ago. Meat from the diseased parts of these cattle isn’t classed as fit for human consumption. But after those parts have been trimmed away, the rest can be sold.
Still, this isn’t a profit-making situation for DEFRA – far from it! In 2012/13 DEFRA recouped only about a quarter of the money it had paid out for compensation, haulage, slaughter and disposal. And the farmers lost money on whatever plans they’d made to sell live cattle, or to breed from them and milk them.