What impact does bTB have on a farmer?
In 2009 the FCN conducted interviews and found that ‘dealing with bTB causes considerable stress to both farmers and their families’.
Some 20% of those interviewed admitted that they were either ‘panicked’ or ‘devastated’ by the news of a new outbreak, and a further 50% were ‘upset” or ‘worried’. Farmers told the FCN:
“The worst thing was that cows very close to calving had to be shot on farm. We could see the calves kicking inside as they died.”
“I feel there is a constant dark cloud of uncertainty over me, causing stress, anxiety and fear. I feel weary, mentally and physically which results in pain in my body.”
“Financially it is very stressful. Cash flow is a huge problem. Having to keep animals when I would normally sell them puts more pressure on me, on my family, animal accommodation and feed costs. I don’t know how long we can keep going.”
The study found that many farmers were suffering financial impacts to their businesses, including a reduction in sales of beef and milk as a result of culled animals, increased labour and extra costs of feed and bedding, as they had to keep animals for longer.
Some farmers have become so weary and frustrated by repeated bTB outbreaks that they have decided to go out of beef or dairy production altogether.