Unions have championed a proposal from the National Assembly for Wales to push for a countrywide target date for official TB-free status and the removal of badgers from infected herds.
The refreshed bovine TB strategy from the Welsh Government prompted a call for the law to follow in the footsteps of those in England, Ireland and New Zealand, to set and follow a specified and regional timetable of agreed deadlines.
The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs committee report said targeted badger removal in herds with persistent outbreaks of TB should be scientifically monitored, and if found to be failing, should be stopped or changed.
Welsh chief vet Christianne Glossop pre-empted the report in March, when she told a TB symposium at London’s Imperial College badgers may be culled in areas of Wales where ‘the disease was most prevalent’.
NFU Cymru deputy president John Davies said: “It is high time that promising words are turned into direct action in the form of the introduction of a policy of targeted badger removal in cases of chronic breakdown herds where evidence shows both cattle and wildlife are suffering.”
The farming chief argued any eradication strategy should be focused on ‘sound and proven scientific evidence’ in what was a ‘very complicated picture’.
He added: “NFU Cymru feels strongly the measures taken to help eradicate TB should be based on sound and proven scientific evidence. Any biosecurity measures undertaken on-farm need to be practical, deliverable, cost-effective and proven to be effective in preventing spread of disease.”
Farmers’ Union of Wales echoed the claims and said it agreed with the idea to begin targeted badger removal in herds with persistent TB breakdowns.
Leaders were particularly keen on the recommendation to set interim targets for each of the three risk areas in Wales.
Dr Hazel Wright, FUW senior policy officer, added: “Having a target date for Wales to be officially TB-free provides clarity on the process and focuses the eradication programme.
“More importantly, it provides accountability and allows the industry to evaluate whether the strategy is working.”
In England, the latest statistics from Defra showed new TB outbreaks have fallen by 7 per cent since last year.