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Attack of Ministry's TB Stance

21 July 2008

WALES - National Farmers' Union Cymru President Dai Davies, has hit out at the environment secretary Hilary Benn's stance over control of Bovine TB in a speech on the eve of the Royal Welsh Show.

He said the secretary of state had "abrogated his responsibility and is ignoring the spiralling incidence of the disease.

"NFU Cymru is celebrating its centenary this year and although I'm not one for looking back generally I thought perhaps this year was an exception. While preparing this Royal Welsh Show message I looked back at what the 'hot topics' were at last year's show," Mr Davies said.

"Bovine Tuberculosis was high on the rural agenda this time last year and Shambo the bullock catapulted the issue into the media limelight. At last year's Royal Welsh Show we had the commitment from the 'One Wales Government' to an eradication strategy and NFU Cymru had prepared written evidence for the Rural Development Sub-Committee and we were preparing oral evidence to give them during the show.

"One year on and of course this is still very much a 'hot topic'. I've no doubt that the evidence given last year, together with all the scientific evidence, were contributory factors in the Minister for Rural Affairs’ courageous decision to adopt a holistic approach to eradication of Bovine TB in both cattle and wildlife in Wales.

"I compare this to the Secretary of State, Hilary Benn's, complete abrogation of responsibility and dereliction of duty in England where he seems to think that a strategy of ignoring the problem will stop the spiralling incidence of disease.

"Experience has shown that it definitely will not. No-one and nothing is served by such short sightedness."

Looking at the issues currently facing farmers, Mr Davies said that all the talk at the moment was of the global demand for food outstripping supply.

"There is no question that, as farmers, we can increase production and in so doing continue to respect the environment but it has to be profitable to do so," he said.

"We have witnessed an explosion of input prices and in the costs which central Government appears determined to dump on us. This, in combination with cuts in producer prices, is sapping the confidence of livestock farmers in Wales who have few alternatives.

"We need a combination of more sustainable returns from the supply chain together with a reversal of the upward spiral of costs."

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