WALES, UK - The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has described the Welsh Government’s north Pembrokeshire badger tuberculosis vaccination programme as a ‘complete farce’ after it was revealed that its five year vaccination trial could not be completed.
Earlier this week the Welsh Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, Rebecca Evans, announced that the project would have to be halted due to a global shortage of BCG vaccine, leading to a necessity to prioritise human vaccination.
The FUW called for a return to a science-based badger culling policy, the removal of all additional farm restrictions in the area and for what remains of the vaccination budget to be used to help north Pembrokeshire farmers.
Badger vaccination will now almost certainly not take place next year, which was to have been the final year of the north Pembrokeshire Intensive Action Area (IAA) vaccination pilot.
Since 1 May 2010, the FUW said farmers within the IAA have had to undertake additional and costly cattle control measures over and above those implemented in the rest of Wales.
“Farmers accepted additional cattle controls in the area in 2010 on the understanding that the wildlife disease reservoir would be tackled using a scientifically proven approach, in the form of badger culling,” said FUW TB spokesman Brian Walters.
“In 2012 those farmers were betrayed by the Welsh Government’s decision to replace badger culling with vaccination, despite scientific and economic evidence from its own staff and advisors showing vaccination would cause more cattle to die, and cost an additional £3.5million.”
Brian Walters said that the latest progress report from the IAA had concluded there had been no meaningful change in TB levels in the area.
“The Welsh Government has now revealed that it is not even able to complete the second-rate policy it introduced in 2012 – meaning north Pembrokeshire farmers have been let down not once but twice,” he added.
Mr Walters described the situation as a “complete farce” and said it was now imperative that the additional cattle controls present in the area for more than five years should now be lifted. He said the FUW was also calling for what remains of the IAA vaccination budget to be used to help those farmers in the area who have endured additional costs not present in other areas.
“Four years and millions of pounds – around £700 per badger vaccinated – have been wasted on a policy which the available science tells us cannot come close to being as effective as a badger cull.
“In light of this failure, the Welsh Government should now implement a badger culling policy at the earliest opportunity in line with the official ministerial advice it has previously received, in order to replicate the positive outcomes of culling seen in countries throughout the world.
The FUW is eager to work with the Welsh Government in order to develop and implement an action plan for a badger culling policy.
TheCattleSite News Desk