The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the ‘Refreshed Bovine TB Programme’, launched by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, earlier today.
The refreshed approach includes additional measures, which will form part of the Welsh Government’s bovine TB eradication programme in Wales, such as the establishment of Low, Intermediate and High TB Areas in Wales from October 1 this year.
Responding to the announcement, FUW Bovine TB Spokesman Brian Walters, said: ‘‘As expected, the refreshed Welsh TB programme continues to focus almost entirely on cattle controls and the FUW has continued to reiterate members concerns regarding the implementation of measures such as regionalisation, without significant measures to tackle the disease in wildlife.
“However, whilst we recognise that many of our members will be frustrated by the new rules, many of the FUW’s key concerns have been allayed and the Union is pleased that the Welsh Government has listened to many of the issues outlined in our consultation response.”
The FUW strongly opposed the proposal to effectively add a further 60 days of movement restrictions for herds passing a clearing test, emphasising that this would increase the minimum time period that any herd was under restriction to at least six months.
The Welsh Government accepted Union concerns surrounding this issue and the proposals outlined today would allow the clearing test to continue to be used as a pre-movement test, except in chronic cases.
Other concerns highlighted by the FUW, relating to policies such as 6 monthly testing in the High Risk Areas, have also been accepted by Welsh Government and such policies are now only being used in a targeted approach to disease control. The Union is pleased to note that the lifetime restriction of clear tested inconclusive reactors to the herd will not now be used.
The Union was also pleased to note a small positive step forward in tackling the wildlife reservoir of disease.
‘‘Successful TB eradication programmes in other countries have included a commitment to tackle the wildlife disease reservoir and the FUW therefore welcomes the proposal to begin targeted badger removal in herds with persistent TB breakdowns in the High TB area.
“However, whilst the FUW is pleased to see recognition of the need to deal with wildlife in chronic breakdown herds, we would seek to ensure that any strategy for badger removal be extended if benefits could be conferred elsewhere in Wales.
“A targeted wildlife approach is a positive first step in establishing an holistic disease programme in Wales. However, it is essential that evidence on the degree to which badger populations are infected with TB continues to be gathered proactively across Wales.
“As with strategies relating to cattle populations, any indication of TB in badgers should lead to badger removal in infected areas,” added Mr Walters.