FUW – government should foot bill for TB testing

Stricter pre-movement testing to control bovine TB in Wales should be paid for by the Welsh Government, the Farmers Union of Wales has said.

The testing regime was introduced in 2010 as part of a package of measures which included plans to cull badgers.

Welsh cattle farmers agreed to adopt the measures believing that the government would see through the plans to tackle the disease reservoir in wildlife. But when Labour took control at the Welsh Assembly in 2011 it ditched the proposed cull.

FUW president Emyr Jones has now insisted the Welsh Government has a “moral obligation” to pay for the stricter movement measures.

Mr Jones said: “We repeatedly raised concerns with the previous Welsh Government that its failure to introduce policies relating to badgers and cattle in tandem would lead to additional costly cattle controls being introduced prematurely,”

The Glamorgan branch of the FUW is leading the way for a policy change. A resolution passed by the branch demands that farmers should not pay for pre-movement tests.

Mr Jones has also written to Wales’ environment minister, John Griffiths, reiterating that the Welsh Government’s scientific evidence clearly shows that badgers are responsible for about 50% of confirmed herd breakdowns in areas where the disease is endemic.

The current situation, he added, was the direct result of inaction by successive Welsh and UK Governments. This had led to thousands of cattle farmers in Wales paying the “severe emotional and financial price of TB breakdowns”.

In Mr Jones’ letter he wrote: “The lack of meaningful government action to tackle disease in what your own figures suggest is a species responsible for 50% of confirmed herd outbreaks in high incidence areas, is a betrayal of the industry which has occurred during the past 12 months,

“It leaves us with no doubt that the Welsh Government has a moral obligation to pay for the cattle control policies it has introduced to help tackle an epidemic it and its predecessors are largely responsible for causing,’’ Mr Jones added.

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