TB testing takes its toll on Welsh farmers

Livestock producers in Wales’ bovine TB Intensive Action Area are bowing under the financial and emotional strain of additional cattle testing and movement restrictions imposed on them more than a year ago.

According to the deputy president of NFU Cymru, farmers in the north Pembrokeshire area accepted additional controls on the understanding that measures would also be taken to deal with infection in wildlife.

But that acceptance is now being tested, said Stephen James. “There are deep feelings of frustration, disappointment and anger being felt by farmers in the IAA since the announcement by Wales’ environment minister, John Griffiths, that the Welsh Government would set up an expert panel to undertake a peer review of the scientific evidence base regarding the eradication of bovine TB.”

These feelings, said Mr James, had been intensified in recent weeks by the delay in establishing that panel. He called for a clear timetable from the Welsh

“Today we are eight weeks on from that announcement and whilst we do finally know the make-up of the panel we still have no clear timeline for the completion of this work,” he said.

Between 2000 and 2010 the number of animals slaughtered in Wales under bovine TB control measures has increased by 549%, according to NFU Cymru.

Meanwhile Wales’ chief vet, Christianne Glossop, has urged farmers considering purchasing breeding stock this autumn not to rule out buying cattle from Wales because of a misapprehension of an increased bovine TB risk.

“Efforts to pursue the eradication of the disease in Wales, including the introduction of annual bovine TB testing of cattle, may have given the misleading impression that there is an increased disease risk when purchasing cattle from Wales,” she said.

A move towards an annual test for all herds is one of a number of heightened surveillance and control measures, she added.

Cattle in Wales are being tested more frequently and stringently as part of the eradication programme.


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