FUW expresses disappointment in response to the TB Eradication Programme announcement

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has again been left frustrated following the statement made by the Minister for Rural Affairs, (Tuesday, 16 November 2021), regarding TB Eradication Programme.

The Minister announced a 12 week consultation, ‘A Refreshed TB Eradication Programme’ that outlines future policy proposals by the Welsh Government in tackling the disease in Welsh cattle. 

FUW Animal Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Ian Lloyd said: “With the incidences of TB increasing in Low TB Areas in Wales, it is frustrating that the only response the Welsh Government has to tackle this issue is with increasing cattle controls and with greater testing burdens being placed upon our hard-working farming families.  

“There is increasing concern about the mental health and well-being of our members and this latest statement will do little to alleviate the emotional and financial strains borne by our farmers. 

“It is disappointing to see yet another consultation reviewing payments for cattle compulsorily purchased due to TB.  The Union has made its views on this matter clear; no farmer should be over or under compensated for such cattle.  Any moves to reduce the payments given to farmers will be vociferously opposed by the FUW.” 

Dr Hazel Wright, FUW Senior Policy Officer added:”Whilst the FUW recognises that rapid, accurate and early identification of disease is a key component of a disease eradication programme, it is disappointing - but not surprising - that the programme aims to simultaneously 'strengthen TB controls' whilst phasing out the badger trap and test work in persistent breakdown herds’.   

“The FUW maintains that a holistic approach to TB is needed in order to stamp out all sources of infection.  This latest statement continues to chase the disease whilst stepping down efforts to address a significant contributor to the spread of infection. 

“As TB vaccine trials continue in England, it is important to be realistic in the expectation on the effects of a vaccine with regards to disease control. With a workable vaccine and  delivery strategy potentially being many years away, the current war on TB must use all available methods in achieving real positive results now.” 

Mr Lloyd added: "The Welsh Government admits that year on year TB controls for cattle have been stepped up, but the figures demonstrate this one sided approach to tackling the disease has had negligible impacts across vast areas of Wales.” 

He said farmers will therefore be angered to see yet further tightening of the rules for cattle without proactive actions to tackle infections from badgers, and the Welsh Government in fact intends to step down the already paltry actions to tackle the wildlife reservoir that is infecting Welsh cattle on a daily basis. 

"We only need to look at the positive impacts on disease levels in areas of England where they have grasped the nettle to tackle the wildlife reservoir to see why Wales is not doing much better," he said.