Europe likely to press for TB eradication blueprint

Christianne Glossop, the chief veterinary officer for Wales, expects the UK to come under strong pressure from the EU to set up a bovine tuberculosis eradication plan.

She told the annual meeting of the Farmers Union of Wales that some in Europe who opposed the resumption of UK beef exports had cited the incidence of TB.

Farmers should keep reminding politicians that eradication was possible and should be the objective.

But she warned those who favoured the use of wildlife culling that the results of a Welsh dead badger survey due in September might be inconclusive.

Dr Glossop said the Welsh Assembly’s rejection of tabular compensation for TB reactors would cost £6m over the year, and something must be done to find a workable way of fixing the problem of over-valuation.

She admitted that she had much sympathy with farmers who wanted to bury their fallen stock, but the UK government was doing its best to work with the Fallen Stock Company to help livestock farms comply with the EU directive.

The Welsh Assembly was contributing £1.5m a year to the scheme in Wales, but, as a vet, she was not happy with the biosecurity risks of multiple farm collections.

She agreed to accept the challenge of a conference delegate to go on-farm and check how collection drivers operated.

Dr Glossop also agreed that the temporary suspension of the only company to operate in north Wales showed that a more robust collection system was needed.

“I am very embarrassed by the situation,” Dr Glossop said.

“We have looked very closely at the regulation and I can assure you that the categories are so tight that no part of mainland Wales qualifies for derogation.”

Following devolution of animal health and welfare responsibilities to Cardiff, she listed her priorities as: Tackling scrapie and hydatid disease, being prepared for avian influenza, implementing a sheep identification system that satisfied the EU, and persuading farmers about the importance of disease prevention.

Producers needed to recognise that public health was paramount.

There would be a win-win situation if everyone involved shared responsibility and worked in partnership.

“Wales needs a forward looking industry turning out high quality food using the highest standards of animal health and welfare,” she said.

This also meant convincing the public about the welfare of animals exported live.

“The welfare people have been too busy at Oxford to disrupt the trade, but when that stops, look out. It is inevitable that they will cause problems with live exports.”