The Welsh Government is taking steps to reduce the number of cattle slaughtered on-farm as both farming unions warned of the toll the disease is taking on rural communities.
Farmers have previously explained how distressing it is to witness their cows being shot if they are unable to travel to an abattoir because they are in calf, have recently calved or have other welfare needs.
Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths told NFU Cymru’s annual conference last week (November 7) she had ‘listened to concerns’ raised by industry.
“On-farm slaughter is sometimes unavoidable, but we are working with you and the veterinary profession to explore options to reduce the number of cattle needing to be slaughtered on-farm,” she said.
“A pilot starting early next year will allow farmers to request on-farm euthanasia by lethal injection under certain circumstances.”
Ms Griffiths’ remarks followed an address by NFU Cymru president John Davies in which he warned bovine TB was having a greater impact on farmers’ health and wellbeing than any other issue.
He also reiterated his call for the Welsh Government to pursue an English-style policy of badger control to get on top of the disease, pointing to new evidence which has shown huge drops in TB breakdowns in cull areas.
“We have put on record our willingness to work in partnership with Welsh Government to take forward a farmer-led badger control strategy, taking on board the protocols established between the NFU and Westminster Government, and the offer remains,” Mr Davies said.
“But in order to deliver, farmers need to know Welsh Government will provide the support which successive Farming Ministers in England have given to the TB eradication programme.”
The Minister, however, suggested the ‘refreshed’ approach which split Wales into low, intermediate and high-risk areas based on TB incidence levels was bearing fruit.
“I believe progress has been made with the implementation and delivery of our refreshed approach,” she said.
“Since the start of the action plan intervention policy, restrictions have been lifted in 38 persistent breakdown farms with action plans, although 12 of these unfortunately have subsequently seen a recurrence of the disease.
“This indicates we are making progress in some of the most complex TB breakdowns.”