The Welsh government this week have announced that ‘progress’ was being made in the fight against TB, a claim which NFU Cymru disputed.
Lesley Griffiths, minister for environment, energy and rural affairs, updated the National Assembly on Welsh government’s bovine TB eradication programme, launched 18 months ago.
She discussed the 2018 TB breakdown figures, which show there was 746 new TB herd incidents in Wales last year, representing a 5 per cent reduction compared to 2017.
Of these incidents, 11,233 animals were slaughtered as a result of TB, an increase of 12 per cent on the year. She said this increase was due to heightened surveillance.
Mrs Griffiths said: “We are making progress in tackling the disease but we must now keep up the momentum to stamp out the disease.”
NFU Cymru, however said the 12 per cent increase was ‘worrying’.
Aled Jones, NFU Cymru deputy president, said: “To see 11,233 cattle slaughtered in 2018 is completely unacceptable and in our view is not an indicator that this strategy is having a sufficient impact on this serious problem.”
Mrs Griffiths called for a continued collaborative approach to tackling the disease, but NFU Cymru said for this to happen the Welsh government would need to work with farmers to address the disease in cattle and wildlife.
Mr Jones said Wales needed to look to look over the border to England’s collaborative approach.
“Defra has worked closely with the industry as part of the strategy in England, giving the NFU and farmers the confidence to prepare and submit licence applications. Preliminary figures suggest this is leading to a reduction of the disease in a number of those cull areas. We again urge the Minister to look at the effectiveness of the model adopted in England.”
NFU Cymru also expressed concerns about a proposed review of the current TB compensation regime, with Mrs Griffiths describing the current £14m spend as ‘unsustainable’.
Mr Jones said: “This is particularly galling, when it is the Welsh Government’s failure to implement a holistic policy that effectively eradicates the disease in the first place that is making such compensation necessary. The best way to lower that spend would be to introduce measures that tackle the disease across all vectors.”