Decisive action to eradicate bovine TB in Wales was demanded at today’s (Tuesday, August 16) opening day of Pembrokeshire County Show.
The latest official Welsh Government statistics reveal that the number of new herd incidents in Wales has decreased by 17 per cent and that the number of herds under restriction at the end of the 12 months up to the end of May 2016 was down by 11 per cent when compared year-on-year.
But the figures also show a 37 per cent year-on-year increase in the total number of animals slaughtered in Wales due to bovine TB.
The local situation in Pembrokeshire is even more alarming, with 2,652 cattle slaughtered in the county in the 12 months up to the end of May 2016 – a staggering 61 per cent increase compared to the same 12-month period last year.
Speaking at the show, Pembrokeshire dairy farmer and NFU Cymru president, Stephen James, said that when looking at a disease as complex as bovine TB one should consider short-term statistical changes in the context of long-term trends.
“This scale of loss is hugely damaging and totally unsustainable for the industry in Pembrokeshire,” he added.
“Far too many farming families continue to struggle under the enormous emotional and financial strain caused by bovine TB.
“Cattle farmers in Pembrokeshire and throughout the rest of Wales are continuing to play their part to help control and eradicate the disease by adhering to stringent cattle movement and testing controls.
“But these latest figures are a clear illustration that the measures currently in place to eradicate this disease are not working in parts of the country like Pembrokeshire where the disease is also endemic in the wildlife population.
“Cattle measures and biosecurity have a vital role to play in a TB eradication plan, but experience from across the globe and from our neighbours across the border in England and across the Irish Sea, have shown that a TB eradication plan must also include a strategy for dealing with the disease reservoir in wildlife in areas where it is endemic.
“Farmers in Pembrokeshire and across the whole of Wales are playing their part in bearing down on the disease - but the reservoir of infection that exists in wildlife has still not been confronted.
“We are urging the new Welsh Government to look again at the current TB strategy.
“If we are to eradicate bovine TB in Wales then this Government has to support the implementation of a policy that will actively remove the disease from the wildlife population in areas of Wales where both cattle and badgers are suffering.”