UK - NFU Cymru has made it clear to the Welsh Government that farmers across Wales are ‘as frustrated as they have ever been’ with the impact bovine TB is having on Wales.
As part of its formal response to the Welsh Government’s ‘A refreshed TB eradication programme’ consultation document, NFU Cymru said it could not accept further cattle controls without action also being taken to actively address the disease in wildlife.
NFU Cymru welcomes the recognition from the Welsh Government in the consultation document on the need to take appropriate interventions to break the transmission routes of disease between cattle and wildlife. However, the Union maintains that a refreshed strategy must feature a focus on moving forward with proposals to actively break this link and removing the reservoir of infection in the wildlife population in endemic areas of Wales.
"Cattle keepers take their disease control responsibilities extremely seriously and farm under stringent and restrictive cattle controls. As each year goes by these cattle controls have increased. Any suggestion of further cattle controls without taking appropriate measures to also tackle the reservoir of disease in wildlife is incomprehensible from a farmer’s perspective."
In its response to the consultation, NFU Cymru has voiced a number of concerns over the six-monthly testing period proposed for high TB areas, including increased costs, health and safety concerns, and the increased likelihood that tests will fall at inconvenient times, such as harvest or when cattle are heavily pregnant or calving.
While NFU Cymru is generally supportive of targeting controls and actions that are specific to the disease prevalence in the local area, the Union’s members are clear that any zoning of Wales into TB areas should not take place until the current County Parish Holding (CPH) rationalisation programme is complete, so as not to add further complication and confusion to livestock movement rules.
During the consultation exercise a range of issues around the proposals have been raised which NFU Cymru believes require further consideration. It is the Union’s belief that these issues require further discussion with representatives of the industry, including vets and livestock auctioneers.
NFU Cymru President Stephen James said: “Since coming into post, the Cabinet Secretary has taken the time to speak with the Union and farmers to fully understand the bovine TB situation. We welcome the opportunity that the consultation provides for the industry to have its say on this important matter.
“NFU Cymru’s comprehensive consultation response is based on feedback following county meetings, national commodity board meetings and individual feedback received from members. All the feedback we have received shares one common theme – an overwhelming frustration that bovine TB continues to wreak havoc for farming businesses and families across Wales, while the reservoir of disease in wildlife remains unaddressed. Until now, Welsh Government has failed to implement a comprehensive eradication strategy to tackle a disease that continues to claim the lives of cattle in their prime – recent figures show nearly 10,000 cattle were slaughtered over a 12 month period as a result of TB.
"Cattle keepers take their disease control responsibilities extremely seriously and farm under stringent and restrictive cattle controls. As each year goes by these cattle controls have increased. Any suggestion of further cattle controls without taking appropriate measures to also tackle the reservoir of disease in wildlife is incomprehensible from a farmer’s perspective.”
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