After meeting with local farmers recently I asked the Government a number of questions about support for farmers and the environment. When I asked the Department for Food and Rural Affairs how they planned to support farmers in halting the spread of TB, the minister Robert Goodwill MP replied:
“We are pursuing a wide range of interventions as part of the Government’s strategy to eradicate bovine TB in England by 2038, including strengthening cattle testing and movement controls, licensing badger control, and promoting biosecurity on farms to help farmers prevent the spread of Bovine TB. Sir Charles Godfray’s independent review (published in November 2018) is an important contribution that will inform next steps in the strategy.
In my Written Ministerial Statement of 20 June 2019, I announced plans to reinforce TB testing in the High Risk Area, invited applications for a third round of the Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme and confirmed the licensing and authorisation by Natural England of three supplementary badger control areas for 2019.
Our partnerships with other organisations have enabled the development of toolkits that support farmers to understand their role in the prevention and eradication of the disease, including the TB Hub, the iBTB website and the TB Advisory Service”.
I also asked the Department about Bees and Wildflower medows. Dr Thérèse Coffey replied:
“Wildflowers provide pollen and nectar resources essential for sustaining wild and honey bees. Wildflower meadows therefore provide vital habitats for bee populations.
Published scientific research has established that range contractions in many of our bee species are linked to the loss of species-rich habitats such as wildflower meadows. It also found that bee populations are more diverse on farms where wildflowers are sown or in landscapes with greater densities of wildflower meadows and other species-rich habitats.
We also know that when we put wildflowers back, bees respond. Landscape-scale studies of wild bumblebee populations in farmed landscapes, led by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and part-funded by Defra, revealed that providing flower-rich habitat enhances the long-term survival of bumblebee families.
Through our programme of agri-environment monitoring, we are currently evaluating how sowing wildflowers on farms is supporting bee populations”.