14 September 2001

Wales minister slates Powys move

WALES minister for rural affairs, Carwyn Jones, joined a chorus of criticism of DEFRAs decision to make the whole of Powys a high-risk area under the new autumn movement regime.

Mr Jones said his pleas to give at-risk status to the old counties of Radnorshire and Montgom- eryshire, where no cases have been confirmed for two months, were ignored. As a result crucially important sales of breeding and store stock would be thrown into chaos.

"I am very disappointed that DEFRA has failed to acknowledge the particular circumstances in Powys, which is one of the largest county areas in England and Wales."

Gareth Vaughan, a vice president of the Farmers Union of Wales, went further. He claimed DEFRA was completely out of touch with reality, and described as an absolute disgrace the way the views of people on the ground in Wales had been ignored.

High-handed

"DEFRA are taking a high-handed attitude towards this matter and putting the future livelihoods of countless farmers in Powys at risk. The decision cannot be justified on scientific or any other grounds, other than the administrative convenience of DEFRAs pen-pushers."

Hugh Richards, president of NFU Cymru/Wales, called for an immediate re-think of the designation, which in the absence of a blood testing timetable left the farmers of Powys operating in the dark.

He also demanded more realistic compensation for the many store and breeding animals would inevitably have to go through the Welfare Disposal Scheme in high-risk areas. &#42