‘More action needed to tackle bovine TB crisis in Wales’

Farm leaders are calling on the Welsh government to step up its efforts to tackle the ongoing bovine TB crisis in Wales.

Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) president Glyn Roberts said recent research continues to support the union’s position that cattle controls alone cannot solve the TB problem in Wales. 

Speaking ahead of the the annual Welsh Dairy Show at a special function held at Carmarthen Livestock Market on Monday (28 October), Mr Roberts urged the Welsh government to step up its efforts to tackle the disease.

See also: Badger culls reduce bovine TB cattle outbreaks, study finds

“A study published in Scientific Reports journal this month assessed the real effects of the four-yearly culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset between 2013-2017. The results overwhelmingly demonstrate that culling reduces the level of TB in cattle,” said Mr Roberts. 

He further pointed out that four years after the introduction of badger culling, the level of bovine TB in cattle reduced by 66% in Gloucestershire and 37% in Somerset.  

“Moreover, current data on the edge of the cull areas showed no negative perturbation effects. The Welsh cattle industry continues to operate under a heavy burden of cattle controls that have yet to make a significant impact on the levels of bovine TB in cattle,” Mr Roberts added.  

“Over 12,300 cattle were slaughtered in Wales in the year ending June 2019. The highest on record.

“We believe Welsh TB policy should be changed and a scientifically tried-and-tested badger cull policy be established that learns the lessons from the strategy employed by Defra in England.”

Lib Dems demand action

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds MP echoed calls for greater action to tackle bovine TB across farming communities in Wales.

She said the Welsh government must use all the tools in the toolbox to tackle TB, including greater vaccination rates and targeted culls to contain the disease.

“Bovine TB still casts a dark shadow over affected farming communities, with 12,000 cattle slaughtered in Wales alone last year,” said Ms Dodds.

“There are over 250,000 dairy cows across Wales and they form the key backbone of our agricultural economy. With more than 700 new cases of TB in herds last year alone, we need to ensure we’re doing everything we can to control this deadly disease.

“The Welsh government now needs to develop a long-term strategy to do this and ensure future outbreaks of TB are contained and eradicated swiftly.”