Welsh farmers have a chance to get ahead of Bovine TB under a regime which sees all herds tested for the disease, the Welsh Assembly has said.

Speaking at the NFU Cymru centenary conference in Cardiff last week (26-27 November), assembly rural affairs minister Elin Jones said the checks had found disease that would have remained undetected under the previous testing regime.

The Welsh TB eradication programme, launched in April, gave farmers a “real opportunity” to get ahead of the disease for the first time, she said.

“We will only succeed if we are able to call on all parts of the industry to play their part in the process. I want farmers to work alongside us to keep the disease out of their farms and to make sure it is not passed on to other farms in the area.

“We all, farmers and government, need to be prepared to change our ways, to think outside the box in order to eradicate this disease.”

Ms Jones said she had commissioned research to allow her to make a decision in the New Year on culling badgers in an area of Wales.

A consultation on options to link compensation payments to good biosecurity practices would also be published early next year, she added.

Ms Jones also repeated her pledge to reduce the bureaucratic burden on farmers and announced a new overarching farming strategy would be published in early 2009. At its core would be the sustainability and profitability of the family farm.

• Net farm income for all farm types in Wales for 2007-08 was £18,400 last year rising from £12,100 the previous year.

The 23% increase was largely due to higher farm gate prices, Ms Jones said.