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Cattle Control Measures Alone Cannot Eradicate bTB

16 August 2011
National Farmers Union

WALES, UK - NFU Cymru is using the Pembrokeshire Show to highlight the severe difficulties that bovine TB continues to cause dairy and beef farmers throughout Wales and to highlight the crucial role the Welsh Government has to play to help eradicate the disease.

Pembrokeshire dairy farmer and NFU Cymru Deputy President Stephen James said: “Cattle farmers throughout Wales fully understand that they have an important role to play in eradicating bovine TB."

"This is especially the case amongst farmers in the north Pembrokeshire Intensive Action Area (IAA) who have complied fully with the additional movement restrictions and cattle testing requirements that have been imposed upon them since May 2010. These measures alongside the continuing high incidence of disease have added significantly to the stress and strain, both emotionally and financially, on farming families in the area."

“Farmers accepted these additional cattle controls on the understanding that they were part of a comprehensive package of measures to eradicate the disease, which included measures to deal with the reservoir of infection in wildlife."

“There are deep feelings of frustration, disappointment and anger being felt by farmers in the IAA since the announcement by the Environment Minister, John Griffiths AM, that the Welsh Government will set up an expert panel to undertake a peer review of the scientific evidence base regarding the eradication of bovine TB. These feelings have intensified in recent weeks by the delay in putting this panel together.”

Mr James continued: “Today we are eight weeks on from that announcement and whilst we do finally know the make-up of the panel we still have no clear timeline for the completion of this work."

"We need a clear timetable for this group to report back to Government and this must be followed by a clear and unambiguous commitment from Government as to the next steps it will take towards TB eradication. A commitment that will give hope to farming families that we will rid this disease from our countryside."

“There is no doubt in my mind that the scientific evidence shows a clear link between the disease in badgers and cattle. This is confirmed to me by the evidence from other countries where the difficult but correct political decision has been taken to tackle the disease in wildlife. For example just a short trip across the Irish sea we can see the success that the Irish Republic have had in reducing the incidence of disease."

“Between 2000 and 2010 whilst the number of animals slaughtered in Wales under bovine TB control measures has increased by a staggering 549% the number of TB reactors in Ireland over the same time period has fallen by nearly 51 per cent. The difference between Ireland and Wales is purely down to their decision to introduce a wildlife control strategy in infected areas of the country."

“As the Irish are proving, you can get a grip on this disease if you employ a twin track approach and address cattle to cattle spread at the same time as breaking the wildlife-bovine cycle."

"By accepting the cattle control and biosecurity measures imposed farmers in Wales have shown they are committed to eradicating this disease. We feel that having gone so far down the road to deliver a genuine TB eradication strategy for Wales the strategy has now been stalled."

"For the sake of all the resource and effort that has been committed to date by both the farming industry and government we urgently need the comprehensive programme to be kick-started so we can get bovine TB eradication back on track in Wales."

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