NFU Cymru reacts to Westminster TB announcement

Today’s announcement from the Westminster Government is obviously good news for farmers in England, who like Welsh farmers, have seen disease continue to rise despite operating tight cattle control measures, said Ed Bailey, NFU Cymru President.

Mr Bailey said, ’The science has clearly shown that a policy which includes badger controls is fundamental to reducing and ultimately eradicating bovine TB, it is pleasing to see this recognition from the Westminster Government.

’However, this only goes to further exasperate our deep frustration and anger with the Welsh Government as it continues to dither while England and many other countries throughout the world have taken the difficult, but necessary, decision to address the disease reservoir in wildlife, which are so clearly implicated in the spread of TB. I am sure that as in countries such as Ireland and New Zealand, where a wildlife policy has been introduced, English farmers can now have some confidence that at last they have a chance to get on top of and ultimately eliminate TB from their countryside.

’Wales was leading the way in terms of putting together a comprehensive programme of measures to deal with bovine TB. The previous Government had put together a strong case built on scientific evidence in support of a TB eradication campaign that would have removed infection from wildlife and cattle. This evidence base received the support of the majority of AMs, in particular many of those AMs are now a part of the current cabinet in Cardiff Bay.

’This makes it all the more disappointing to see our Government prevaricate and hide behind a peer review while another country and another Government has taken what we do understand is a difficult but undoubtedly the correct decision towards a policy that will get on top of a disease that causes suffering to countless cattle and wildlife and untold misery to farmers and their families.

Reacting to the news that Wales’ Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor John Harries, has named the scientist who will chair the review of the scientific evidence base regarding the eradication of bovine TB in Wales, as Professor Christopher Gaskell, Ed Bailey said, ’You must remember that it’s a month since the review was announced and although I welcome the news of the appointment of Professor Gaskell, how long will farmers blighted by bovine TB have to wait for the results of this review?

’Naming the chairman is the first step and this could have been announced at the same time as the review a month ago. If that had happened the chairman could have been well on the way to choosing his panel of experts by now.

’You have to question whether all this has been a delaying tactic. It’s something I put to the First Minister (on Monday) when I met him at the show.’