Carwyn Jones, the Welsh assembly’s rural affairs minister, has backed away from his plan to impose a tabular valuation system for bovine tuberculosis reactors.

The idea was rejected by the assembly in the summer, and opposition members had made it clear that if it was reintroduced they would use Labour’s lack of an overall majority to defeat it again.

But, in a Farmers Weekly “In the Hot Seat” feature (News, 1 December), Mr Jones insisted that the present valuation system could not continue when auditing suggested that some farmers were getting paid twice the true value of their cattle.

Range of options

He has now said he will submit a range of options after consulting stake holders, which is likely to include the use of government employed valuers.

Farming unions, who claimed that tabular valuations were unfair, have welcomed the change of heart.

“With tabular valuations already facing the prospect of judicial review in England it would in my view have been foolhardy for the government here to try to introduce them,” said Dai Davies, president of NFU Cymru.

The 47 categories of animals contained in the tables could not reflect the diversity of animals on farms. Farmers who worked hard to build up quality stock could still be penalised.

No substitute

“A table of figures is no substitute for having a person valuing an animal.”

Farmers Union of Wales spokesman Peter Roberts also approved of the decision not to re-introduce a switch to tabular valuations.

“It makes sense for Mr Jones to consult the industry before changing a compensation system which, with the disease spreading is vitally important for cattle farmers in Wales.”

Elin Jones, Plaid Cymru shadow environment minister, conceded that the assembly needed to look further to tighten the valuation system to eradicate over-compensation.

But it was incomprehensible for the minister to replace it with a system undergoing a legal challenge in England.

“More than anything, we need the minister to spend less time talking about the problems of compensation and more time tackling the spread of TB,” insisted Miss Jones.