Bovine TB eradication 'must be priority' for next Welsh govt

9,762 animals were slaughtered in Wales in the year to December 2020, latest data shows
9,762 animals were slaughtered in Wales in the year to December 2020, latest data shows

The eradication of bovine TB must be a priority for the next Welsh government, the Farmers' Union of Wales has urged.

The latest statistics available show that 9,762 animals were slaughtered in the year to December 2020 in Wales.

This figure is 20 percent below the all-time high of 12,256 animals slaughtered in 2019.

But the union says data shows recurrence rates of closed bTB incidents breaking down again within the subsequent 2 year period, at around 30%.

Because of this, the FUW warns that the disease is not being controlled effectively under the current measures.

Ian Lloyd, the union's Animal Health and Welfare Committee chairman, said the figures were a 'sad reflection' of the ongoing problems caused by bovine TB.

“Considerable concern exists regarding the proportionality of some measures and the severe economic restrictions they place on farms,” he said.

The union has previously called for a Wales Bovine TB Economics Task and Finish Group to provide Welsh specific information on the financial impact of a TB breakdown and the subsequent mental health impact on farmers.

Mr Lloyd added: “The FUW continues to support a holistic approach to bTB control in Wales which is guided by science rather than politics.

"Countries such as France and Germany are able to maintain bTB incidence levels close to zero and Ireland has been able to halve bTB incidents through proactive badger culling."

The union stresses that it is 'essential' for the next Welsh government to 'properly balance' the economic needs of farms against the need to minimise disease transmission.

The next government should also ensure that proportionate penalties are only applied where they are appropriate, the union says, and that the practicalities of farming are taken into account when considering appeals against penalties and sanctions.

Mr Lloyd said: “We urge the next Welsh government to implement a badger culling policy at the earliest opportunity... in order to replicate the positive outcomes seen in countries throughout the world.

"They must also continue to support the trials and rollout of cattle vaccinations while recognising that it is only part of the answer towards eradicating bovine TB in Wales."