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Welsh Government’s new TB eradication proposals a significant danger to farmers’ mental health says union

21 Feb 2022 3 minute read
Ian Lloyd picture by FUW

The Welsh Government’s new proposals for tackling bovine TB would be a significant danger to farmers’ mental health, the Farmers’ Union of Wales has warned.

The union is concerned that the Welsh Government Refreshed TB Eradication Programme consultation will lead to reduced compensation paid for cattle compulsorily slaughtered due to bovine TB, an increase in the number of cattle tests being conducted and more restrictions on moving cattle.

FUW Animal Health and Welfare Committee chairman Ian Lloyd said: “Irrespective of farm TB history, the stress and anxiety endured during TB testing, and the fear of facing a potential TB breakdown, continues to hammer the mental health of farmers across Wales and the veterinarians conducting the test.

“Fifty agricultural workers take their own lives each year and veterinarians are three to four times more likely to commit suicide than any other profession. The Welsh Government must seriously consider the effects its proposals will have on the mental state of the rural community.”

In its response to the consultation, the FUW said it was unacceptable to issue such proposals without any attempt to determine the expected impact on cattle welfare and human health and safety due to the increased gathering and handling required to comply with the testing proposals in the consultation.

Ian Lloyd added that the RABI Big Farming Survey 2020 showed that 31% of the farming community cited financial pressures as a cause of stress.

“The fundamental lack of any impact assessment to ascertain the catastrophic effects that these proposals will incur is wholly disrespectful to the farming community and the enormous challenge that mental health charities supporting the rural community already currently face,” he said.

“Collectively these proposals will create a culture of fear and anxiety and directly contradict the aims of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 where public bodies are required to think about the long-term impact of their decisions on the health, economy and communities of Wales.”

The Welsh Government have previously said that they are working together with farmers on eradicating bovine TB.

“We have seen good progress towards eradication since we established our programme in 2008, with long-term decreases in new incidents and prevalence,” they said.

“Farmers are at the centre of what we’re trying to achieve, and we are, of course, listening to them. We have been clear we can’t tackle this disease alone and we all have a role to play.

“The consultation on our refreshed TB eradication programme has recently closed and we will carefully consider all the views provided.”

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