“We faced numerous shutdowns” – the cost of bovine tuberculosis (bTB)

Farmer and Harper Adams University student Zoe Legg is a volunteer with The Farming Community Network (FCN). In this Q&A, Zoe shares with us how bovine tuberculosis (bTB) impacted her family farm – and encourages people to take the time to fill in the charity’s bTB survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/3HG5YFG

Hi Zoe. What is your background in farming?

We are now an arable farm. We had a 350 head beef suckler herd until 2019 when my father passed away unexpectedly. We are based just outside Exeter below Haldon Hill.

What happened on your farm in relation to bTB?

We faced numerous shutdowns. Initially we were unable to sell at market, which impacting our cash flow, until Exeter Market opened their TB market, which helped. The biggest impact we faced was when we came to selling the herd after my father’s death. Mum and I were totally dependent on the herd going clear to be able to sell the cattle. A whole herd test during such a difficult emotional time was horrendous and added another huge level of stress. I dread to think what mess we would be in now had we not gone clear. Our hands were tied to this one factor that was beyond our control.

As well as the financial impacts, what were the other impacts on family, friends etc.?

The stress was immense. Making sure all the passports were correct, having to find people to help us, the workload…at such a vulnerable time, it was really tough.

Do you recall any positive interactions during this period?

We were lucky to have an incredibly supportive vet who helped with the organization as well as Kivels at Exeter Market.

Why is it important people take the time to fill out FCN’s bTB survey?

To try and help make the process less stressful and arduous. Even as a child I can remember the tension running up to a TB test.

What motivated you to volunteer with FCN?

I didn’t know much about or turn to FCN during our struggles. If I had known about the charity sooner it could have really helped us. Now I am familiar with the work of the charity, I want to help farmers become aware of all the help on offer.

What are some changes / developments you would like to see in agriculture in the years to come?

Talking about mental health, changing many of the stereotypes around it being a male-dominated and low-skill environment, and trying to make farming a more approachable and valued industry in consumers’ eyes.

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