Wales’ dairy and beef sectors could be dealt a double blow if the Welsh government fails to come up with a credible plan to tackle bovine TB in badgers.
Plaid Cymru’s shadow rural affairs secretary, Simon Thomas, has warned that, not only is there a danger that exports could be challenged if TB is not dealt with, but Wales could lose important funding for its eradication programme after Brexit.
The Welsh government is set to announce on 18 October what it says will be a “refreshed approach’’ to tackling bovine TB.
Wales’ TB eradication policy has in part been in limbo since badger vaccination was suspended more than a year ago because of a shortage of the BCG vaccine.
During a cross-party Senedd debate on Wednesday (28 September), Mr Thomas said 56% of all dairy herds in Wales were now affected by restrictions relating to bovine TB, compared with 38% 10 years ago.
He warned that questions could be asked about whether Welsh dairy and beef produce should be received by European countries at all.
“There are no guarantees that the rest of the EU will accept that,” he said.
“If vaccine is not going to be used to deal with the wildlife vector, then the government has to come forward with a coherent plan of how it is going to deal with TB in badgers, because that is what it boils down to.’’
The cabinet secretary leading the eradication programme, Lesley Griffiths, said three categories of TB areas, based on incidence levels, had been identified across Wales.
“This will allow us to tailor and implement different measures and approaches that are proportionate and that reflect the varying disease level and risks,’’ she said.
“It is crucial that we get these measures right in order to protect areas with low levels of disease and drive down incidence in areas where the disease has become endemic.
“I will be saying more about this next month in my statement.’’