‘No simple answers to ridding the country of bovine TB’

NFU Cymru has responded to the Welsh government’s statement on the Bovine TB Eradication Programme.

NFU Cymru deputy president Aled Jones said:

The figures shared by the Welsh government in its annual statement on the Bovine TB Eradication Programme, which include a 10% decrease in new herd TB incidences over the last 12 months, are a positive reflection on the efforts of Welsh farmers, technicians and vets, working with the Welsh government to combat this disease.

“However, while there has been an 18% reduction in the number of cattle slaughtered as a result of bovine TB in the last year, this still means that there were 10,462 cattle slaughtered on farm in Wales in the last 12 months.

“While we acknowledge that the bovine TB picture is a complex one and there are no simple answers to ridding our country of this terrible disease, it is troubling to still see such an enormous number of animals falling victim to bovine TB in Wales.

“It’s also a stark reminder that there is still much work to do if we are going to eradicate this disease from the Welsh herd.”

‘An all-options approach’

Jones continued:

Despite the progress the Welsh government has documented in its annual statement on the Bovine TB Eradication Programme, NFU Cymru still fervently believes that an all-options approach which looks to address the reservoir of disease in the wildlife population alongside cattle controls and measures, is the best route to take to properly tackle this issue and help reach our TB-free aim.

“The union’s desire to see the disease tackled across all its vectors is supported by scientific evidence.

“In the summer we saw a Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) commissioned report that revealed an average reduction in the incidence of bovine TB of at least 40% in areas of England that have completed at least four years of culling.

“We also know that just across the border in Gloucestershire, the Downs Report showed a 66% decline in new TB breakdowns.

NFU Cymru remains committed to working with the Welsh government and the wider industry to tackling bovine TB in Wales.

“We urge the minister to reconsider her previous position of ruling out the successful strategy employed in England and to instead look at the evidence from over the border where English farmers have seen significant progress in tackling this horrendous disease,” he concluded.