Church enters fray on TB compensation

The church in Wales has stepped into the debate over compensation for cattle lost to bovine TB, urging the Welsh government not to cap payments made to farmers.

Seventy organisations and individuals responded to a government consultation on a proposed shift to a table-based valuation system, which already operates in England.

Nearly all of these, including the church in Wales, believed the existing system of individual on-farm valuation should be retained.

“As a church we have a moral duty to ensure the welfare of our farmers is paramount,’’ it said. “I therefore urge you to rethink this policy and duly consider these points in the consultation process, as the Tabular Valuation is not sufficiently comprehensive to reflect the huge variations in livestock values.’’

See also: Union slams TB compensation plans

One of the government’s objectives of introducing a new system is to avoid TB compensation being paid at rates above 100% of the market value.

But pedigree breeders feared it would lead to high genetic merit animals being undervalued.

The Beef Shorthorn Society argued that pedigree livestock farmers invest thousands of pounds breeding valuable genetics over many years. “To suggest putting a single tabular valuation on all these animals is to completely ignore the importance and value of genetics,’’ it said.

But some respondents who were in favour of maintaining the status quo thought the current system could be improved.

The Dairy Industry Steering Group for Wales said a mechanism should be put in place to scrutinise valuers. Any valuers thought to be consistently over-valuing or under-valuing stock should be removed from the Welsh government’s approved list of valuers, it suggested.

Wales’ deputy farm minister Rebecca Evans is likely to make a decision on whether or not to adopt a new system this autumn.

In a written statement, she said any changes needed to strike a balance between compensating farmers fairly for the loss of their animals and protecting taxpayers’ interests.