17 May 2002

Ministers plan to hit Welsh TB

WELSH rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones is to launch a new strategy for dealing with the spread of bovine tuberculosis in Wales.

He announced his plan when he met farming leaders this week, and is expected to publish details when he opens the Farmers Union of Wales annual conference on May 29.

Bob Parry, who led a seven strong delegation to the talks, said he was very pleased to hear of the ministers intention to formulate distinctly Welsh control measures.

"It is a clear signal that politicians have woken up to the dangers and are prepared to take action," he said. "The FUW sincerely hopes that the action will be strong enough to stop the spread of this dreadful disease to more Welsh herds."

At the meeting in Cardiff, Mr Parry presented the unions own five-point plan to tackle TB. This includes the fully compensated slaughter of animals that give second inconclusive skin test results, the automatic removal of inconclusive reactors from farms in TB hotspots, and a trial of the gamma interferon test in such hotspot areas.

The union also called for the testing of wildlife on farms where reactors are found.

At a separate meeting on the same day NFU Cymru also called for immediate action to halt the spread of TB, and claimed that tinkering with the edges of policy was not the solution.

Both organisations condemned the governments decision not to claim available agri-monetary cash, and warned about the impact of the fall in the milk price. &#42