Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths has today (Wednesday, August 16) launched a five-year bovine tuberculosis (TB) delivery plan.

The Pembrokeshire Project will explore how a partnership can tackle the disease and will aim to tackle “deep-seated levels on infection” in parts of Pembrokeshire, where TB incidence and prevalence have worsened, the Welsh government said.

The project aims to facilitate collaborative working between vets and farmers and empower local informed decision making and leadership in disease control.

The project’s contract has been awarded to agroup led by Iechyd Da (Gwledig) Ltd. Work is now underway to deliver the project with further details to follow, the government said.

“We are very aware of the challenge of TB in cattle, and the distress it causes for farmers. This is why we are determined to eradicate bovine TB in Wales as set out in our delivery plan, published earlier this year,” Griffiths said.

“We have made steady progress since 2009, with fewer affected herds and new incidents, but we know there have been challenging levels of infection in Pembrokeshire.

“I have always said we cannot do this alone, and partnership working with our farmers and vets is crucial to reach our shared goal of a TB-free Wales.”

Griffiths said she is looking forward to seeing the results of the project and is hopeful that it will have a positive impact in Pembrokeshire and “lessons can be learned for the rest of Wales“.

Disease control

Wales’ chief veterinary officer, Dr. Richard Irvine, said the project will work with a small sample of farms in Pembrokeshire.

Its main purpose, he said, will be to empower vets and farmers to make informed decisions and show leadership in disease control.

“It will develop and implement additional approaches to bovine TB control, over and above the statutory measures currently used in the area,” he said.

“The project will focus on identifying residual disease risk in clear testing cattle and develop a pathway for reducing cattle-to-cattle transmission.

“This will include identification and management of high-risk animals to slaughter and veterinary oversight of biosecurity practices.”

Irvine said he is pleased to see the project, which he labelled an “exciting example of partnership working”, get underway.