NFU Cymru has slammed the Welsh government’s plans to cap compensation paid to farmers who lose cattle to bovine tuberculosis.
The union’s criticism was made in a response to a consultation in Wales on proposals to adopt a table valuation system for TB compensation, similar to that which operates in England. The existing system is based on individual valuations which the government claimed could lead to excessive compensation payments.
See also: Welsh review TB compensation
Wales’ farm minister, Alun Davies (pictured), also hinted that the system needed changing to encourage cattle keepers to play a part in eradicating TB.
But NFU Cymru said farmers had taken objected to this. The union’s president Stephen James said:
“Our members have very much taken issue with the inference in the consultation that the current TB compensation arrangements may not provide sufficient incentive for farmers to keep disease out of their herd.
“We also reject the implication that the current arrangements could act as a disincentive for farmers to engage effectively in TB prevention measures.
Mr James added: “Tabular valuation systems can never be comprehensive enough to accommodate the huge variations in livestock values.”
And he insisted that valuing cattle on the basis of their individual merits was the only way to achieve fairness for both cattle keepers and the taxpayer.
“The key issue with regards to TB compensation is to ensure the disease is controlled quickly and effectively so that the disease has the smallest possible impact on the national herd.
“The fewer animals that need to be slaughtered as a result of TB, the lower the compensation bill and the lower the cost for both government and industry,” Mr James said.
Compensation paid to Welsh farmers in 2013 was significantly lower than in the previous year as a result of a reduction in the number of reactors compulsory slaughtered.
Mr James said cattle keepers were doing their utmost to keep TB out of their herds. “They adhere to some of the most stringent cattle movement and testing controls in the world and have voluntarily taken up and worked with government and private vets on biosecurity initiatives,” he said.
“Unfortunately the failure of Welsh government to implement a policy that will actively remove the disease from the wildlife population means bovine TB continues to cause untold heartache and financial strain to farmers and their families.”