24 February 2000
Farm unions angry at BSE claims

By Robert Davies

FARM unions have slammed allegations that Welsh farmers are contravening rules designed to keep cattle at risk from BSE out of the food chain.

The claims of tag tampering and false documentation were made in the Welsh language television programme Y Byd ar Bedwar.

The law means that older cattle more at risk from BSE should be slaughtered and kept out of the food chain under the Over Thirty Months Scheme (OTMS).

Nigel Durnford, Gloucestershires chief animal health officer, told the programme he animals as old as 44 months had bypassing the regulations.

Mr Durnford also demonstrated how easy it was to remove one particular type of tag in contravention of the EU rule that tags must be tamper-proof.

MAFF reported that half the 12 people prosecuted and fined between 500 and 5000 for supplying false documentation in 1999 were from Wales.

Alan Morris, spokesman for the Farmers Union of Wales said 99.99% of honest farmers were worried about the impact of the programme.

Mr Morris said: “There is absolutely no evidence of any significant fraud in Wales, or anywhere else.”

The National Farmers Union said that public perception of farmers and their products was easily damaged by those who tried to cheat the system.