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Future TB control in Wales must look back to go forward, says FUW

29 Mar 2023 4 minute read
TB testing – Photo: FUW

The FUW is calling on the Welsh Government to evaluate current cattle control measures following new plans to approach TB eradication over the next 5 years.

The 5 year plan will build upon “the comprehensive armoury of measures underway” as part of an overall programme which aims to see a TB-Free Wales by 2041.

Following repeated calls from the FUW, the Welsh Government established national TB eradication targets for each of the TB areas in Wales in 2017.

Dr Hazel Wright, FUW Deputy Head of Policy, said: “The 6 year regional goals set out by the Welsh Government as part of these targets aimed to see Wales become Officially TB Free between 2036 and 2041, with the aim of transferring spatial units from Higher TB Areas into Lower TB Areas, thereby expanding the Low TB Area of Wales.

“However, since these targets were established, we have seen this disease spread and encroach upon the Low TB Areas of Wales.

“Sadly, recent surveillance data shows an emerging area of concern in Anglesey where annual incidence reached an eight-year high in 2021.”

In response, the Welsh Government plans to bring forward legislation to reintroduce Pre-Movement Testing for cattle   from the Low TB Area.

Other changes include extending the requirement for Post-Movement Testing in the Intermediate TB Areas and more rigorous contiguous testing regime for herds neighbouring a TB breakdown.

Dr Wright said: “The FUW is once again concerned that the new delivery plan will continue to focus on increasing the raft of cattle controls conferred upon cattle keepers.

“An essential part of any future policy must include an evaluation of current control measures as a matter of urgency in order to identify those cattle controls which have a high cost to the industry whilst having a minimal impact on disease control and spread.

“The Welsh Government should use the new TB Technical Advisory Group to conduct such evaluation, alongside determining the expected impact on cattle welfare and human health and safety due to the increased gathering and handling required to comply with additional testing proposals.”

In its response to the 2022 Refreshed TB Programme consultation, the FUW reiterated its commitment to working with the Welsh Government to make meaningful progress on bovine TB eradication.

The new governance arrangements for bovine TB control will include public appointments to both the Programme Board and Technical Advisory Group.

“Concerned”

Dr Wright said: “Given that the TB programme Board is responsible for providing direction and management of the TB Programme, the Union therefore notes with dismay the continued appetite of the Welsh Government for group stakeholder membership which involves a public appointment process.

“In order to facilitate partnership working on both the direction and management of future TB control in Wales, the FUW believes that industry involvement in the Programme Board is essential in order to ensure true partnership working.

“Whilst we welcome the opportunity to engage in elements of the programme, we believe that greater more holistic involvement is needed to make further strides towards a TB free Wales.”

In its response to the 2022 Refreshed TB Programme consultation, the FUW also previously called for the establishment of a Risk Based Trading working group.

Dr Wright added: “Whilst the FUW does not oppose the principle of risk based trading, we remain concerned about proposals which are either too crude to be useful or too technical to be usable.

“Discussions surrounding risk based trading must recognise the balance between the need for information, the burden of collating such information and the resultant detrimental effects on some herds.

“However, the FUW continues to fundamentally reject any proposals to move to tabular TB compensation payments on the grounds that it would be unjust and could result in payments that are below the true value of animals.”

“At present, farmers are compensated only for the direct market value of the animal slaughtered. No compensation is offered for the additional costs incurred such as lost revenue, loss of milk production, loss of breeding lines, delays to re-stocking and movement restrictions.

“These consequential losses suffered by a producer whose animals are compulsorily purchased can be significant and run into tens of thousands of pounds and any further reduction in the compensation paid will undoubtedly render some farms unviable.

“It is essential that future control and eradication plans consider TB science, cattle welfare, farmer wellbeing and farm finances in equal measure in order to deliver a sustainable and pragmatic programme of TB control for Wales.”


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Philip Davies
Philip Davies
10 months ago

A curiously concomitant consequence of this inverse relationship between the growing raft of bureaucratic controls for Bovine TB and the diminishing commercial viability of dairy farms in Wales will of course be the greater availability of abandoned farmland for the ongoing ‘Re-Wilding’ programme. A suspicious person could easily come to believe that there was a covert plan at work – – –

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