30 August 2002

Minister sees TBsiege farm

WELSH rural affairs minister, Mike German, has visited a farm under siege from the threat of bovine tuberculosis.

He saw neighbouring holdings hit by the disease as it crept to the boundary of Cwmyrhiwdre Farm at Dolfor, north Powys.

Farmer Gareth Vaughan, who runs 60 suckler cows, said: "We had not seen TB in this area for generations, but unless real action is taken in local TB hotspots we will face a very serious national crisis."

Mr Vaughan, deputy president of the Farmers Union of Wales, hosted the visit on Tuesday (Aug 27). Controls must include badger culling on farms where TB was confirmed and post-mortems on roadkill badgers, he said.

Mr Vaughan, whose four young grandchildren live on the farm, said he was worried about the risk to humans. "It would be terrible if people contracted the disease again because we are not willing to deal with wildlife carriers."

He was supported by John Hughes, his local vet, who told the minister that the disease had appeared on the farms of 50 clients of his Newtown practice.

Mr German said extra vets and support staff were working to clear a backlog of cattle TB tests built up during foot-and-mouth. But animal health issues were the responsibility of DEFRA, he added. &#42