NFU Cymru calls Welsh gov to 'urgently reconsider' badger cull position

Welsh Government has so far ruled out following the strategy employed in England to actively remove the disease from the wildlife population
Welsh Government has so far ruled out following the strategy employed in England to actively remove the disease from the wildlife population

NFU Cymru is urging Welsh Government to "take note of the emerging evidence in England" following the publication of a bovine TB eradication strategy update.

The statistics found within Defra’s update "underline the benefits of badger culling" in reducing the level of bovine TB in areas of England where the disease is endemic, the union says.

The two initial badger cull areas in England are seeing the benefits of reduced disease in cattle over the four year cull period, with the number of new confirmed cattle breakdowns down by around 50%.

In the Gloucester area the incidence rate has dropped from 24% to 12% in the 12 months following their fourth year of badger culling.

Similar results were observed in Somerset with new incidence dropping from 10.4% to 5.6%.

NFU Cymru Milk Board Chairman, Gareth Richards said the disease situation is, at best, static in some areas of Wales, which is in contrast to areas of England where culling has taken place over a period of time.



“Figures released by Defra and comments by the Defra Chief Vet, Christine Middlemiss, make for heartening reading for English cattle farmers as they tackle the scourge of bovine TB," Mr Richards said.

“This is in stark contrast to the strategy employed in the High TB Area in South West Wales where we know there is infection in the badger population.

“New herd incidences here remain unchanged over the last 12 months at 12.5 new breakdowns per 100 Officially TB Free (OTF) herds, but this is an increase compared to 24 months ago when the figure was 10.5 new breakdowns per 100.

“This is despite stringent cattle control and strict biosecurity measures employed by those farming families suffering the misery of a TB breakdown."

Mr Richards added: “Latest statistics show that nearly 10,000 cattle were slaughtered in the year to September 2018. This cannot be allowed to continue if we are to have any hope of getting on top of bovine TB and meet Welsh Government’s own target of total eradication between 2036 and 2041.”

NFU Cymru says the effective control of badgers in areas where the industry knows that they are suffering from disease must be part of the strategy if farmers are to have a "truly comprehensive" TB eradication strategy in Wales.

Welsh Government has so far ruled out following the strategy employed in England to actively remove the disease from the wildlife population.