Farm leaders withdraw support for TB panels

The leaders of Wales’ three regional TB eradication panels have withdrawn their support for these boards following the Welsh Government’s decision to halt a planned badger cull.

John Owen, Peredur Hughes and Robert Stevenson said they felt “entirely bypassed and badly misled” by the government’s decision to review the science behind the TB eradication strategy.

In a letter to Wales’ environment minister John Griffiths, they expressed their “bitter disappointment” over the review.

“We all feel deeply despondent at this decision having given freely of our time and energy to work in partnership with Welsh Government to help formulate what we thought was an agreed way forward,” they stated.

The three farmers chair the Carmarthen, North Wales and Cardiff TB eradication boards. They said they had defended stringent cattle control regulations in the belief that the Welsh Government would deal with the issue of TB in wildlife.

“We have taken the flack locally from farmers frustrated by the persistent tightening up of cattle control measures, but have persuaded them to accept and implement these believing that if the farming community played its part in full and did everything within its power to limit the spread of the disease then we could see these efforts recognised by the Welsh Government and they would do their part by dealing with the reservoir of infection in wildlife in the Intensive Action Area.

“We all feel as if we have been entirely bypassed and badly misled.” He added that, as a result, farmers who sought and heeded their advice had also been misled.

They insist they have no alternative but to withdrawn their support as chairman of the boards until the scientific review has been completed or until Mr Griffiths is prepared to meet them. They say their decision has the full support of the farmers on all three boards.

The letter concludes: “To have taken this decision without even having the courtesy of listening to our opinion suggests a total disregard for our views.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson described the move as “regrettable”.