The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the recommendation of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee that Wales should set a national target date for freedom from bovine TB.
Alongside a national target date, the report, which was published earlier this month, recommends that interim targets be set for TB eradication in each of the three risk areas within Wales.
Dr Hazel Wright, FUW Senior Policy Officer said: “Other countries, such as New Zealand, Ireland and England have established bovine TB eradication programmes which set target dates for being TB free and the FUW has consistently highlighted this in recent months.
“Having a target date for Wales to be officially TB free provides clarity on the process and focusses the eradication programme. More importantly, it provides accountability and allows the industry to evaluate whether the strategy is working.”
In addition to calls for TB free targets, the Committee report includes 12 recommendations for the future of bovine TB eradication in Wales. These include maintaining reasonable compensation rates, a move towards a regional approach and voluntary risk-based trading.
Committee members also agreed with a proposal to begin targeted badger removal in herds with persistent TB breakdowns.
In responding to the Welsh Government’s Refreshed Eradication Programme consultation, the FUW maintained that the risk based trading approach implemented in New Zealand and Australia was coupled with inherent wildlife management.
“The FUW is pleased to see recognition of the need to deal with wildlife and we would seek to ensure that any strategy for badger removal be extended if benefits could be conferred elsewhere in Wales.
“Whilst the report recommends that any strategy for badger removal should be reviewed and monitored, the Union would also seek to ensure that cattle control policies are offered the same evaluation to ensure that they remain scientifically valid and fit-for-purpose.
“The current Welsh TB programme continues to focus almost entirely on cattle controls which cannot address the major source of infection that exists in badgers in large areas of Wales. Indeed, highlighting the success of the informed purchasing approaches in New Zealand and Australia, without acknowledging those countries’ commitments to tackling their disease reservoirs is disingenuous.
“As such, FUW members believed that any moves towards risk-based trading should only be introduced if accompanied by a genuine commitment by Government to tackle the disease reservoir present in large parts of Wales,” added Dr Wright.