Reactor valuations ‘will break us’

Dairy farmer Alan Williams claims he is ready to go to prison rather than accept what he claims are illegal new TB reactor valuations.

Having seen 150 of his pedigree Holstein and Friesian cattle slaughtered over almost four years, he says his Plox herd will go bust if recently introduced maximum compensation levels are used for future reactors.

“We have invested heavily in building up the herd gradually, and should now be in a position to start selling surplus pedigree breeding stock,” said Mr Williams, who runs 120 milkers at Newton St Margarets, Herefordshire.

“We have many cattle in the herd worth at least £4000 on the open market, including some outstanding red-and-whites, but can only sell cattle direct to slaughter.”

In the past, positive reactors were valued individually but, using newly introduced tables, the payment due on calved pedigree females under 36 months old would be £1090.

Those over three years old would be worth £952.

On bulls aged between 12 and 24 months £1341 compensation would be due, and heifer calves under two months old would be worth £446.

Mr Williams, whose previous commercial dairy herd was slaughtered in 1984 after a massive brucellosis flare up, said the change in the valuation system was a blow to all pedigree cattle breeders.

“If we continue to get the same number of reactors we will be broke in no time, so I am refusing to carry out a test that is now due.

If DEFRA forces me to test I will resist sending any reactors to slaughter.

“It is time for breeders, breed societies and auctioneers to contribute to a fighting fund to mount a legal challenge to the new valuation ceilings in court.”

Mr Williams is also concerned that post-mortems on only 13 of the reactors he sent to slaughter revealed TB lesions.

“Both the skin and gamma interferon tests throw up many false positives.”