FUW calls for more transparency on TB impact in North Pembrokeshire
12:01pm Friday 6th September 2013 in News
THE Farmers’ Union of Wales has called for greater transparency regarding the impact extra cattle control measures may have had on TB in the north Pembrokeshire Intensive Action Area (IAA).
Almost four years after biosecurity visits were first instigated in the area, and more than three years after a raft of extra cattle testing and controls were introduced as part of a programme which was originally to have comprised badger culling, information about the impact of the measures has been “sparse to say the least”, says the union.
FUW TB spokesman, vice president Brian Walters, said: “Those who are opposed to badger culling are forever blaming cattle for TB despite the fact that we have some of the strictest rules in the EU.
“Since April 2010 a raft of even stricter cattle rules have been introduced in the IAA, the frequency of TB testing has been doubled and, following last year’s U-turn on a badger cull, the area is now in the second year of a badger vaccination programme.
“Unless there had been a significant change in TB incidences in the area compared with previous disease levels and those in other, similar areas, it would be impossible to attribute any changes to the actions taken in the area. However, farmers and the general public have a right to know what impact, if any, these measures are having.”
Mr Walters said there were significant additional costs for farmers in the area who had accepted the additional rules on the understanding that a badger cull would take place.
“Despite two Welsh Assembly majority votes in support of a badger cull, the industry was last year betrayed by the Welsh Government U-turn, and we believe farmers within and around the IAA, and the general public, have a right to know how the TB statistics relating to the area have changed.”
Mr Walters added that farmers in the area felt little had changed since 2009 in terms of TB levels, and many felt things had got worse.
“However, we have no choice but to rely on this type of anecdotal feedback because we do not have the real figures to hand,” he said.
In a letter to natural resources and food minister Alun Davies, the union asks the Welsh Government to issue a full report detailing all statistics and changes relevant to bTB in the IAA since an appropriate time before the establishment of the IAA and for further updates on a regular, three or six-monthly basis following the production of such a report.
The letter states: “Such updates should be used as the basis of decisions as to whether or not actions within the IAA should be continued.”
The letter, which also asks that money allocated for co-funded badger vaccination should be reallocated, concludes: “Given that budgetary constraints are a major factor in terms of delaying longstanding proposals to update the current holding identification system, we believe that the current proposal to co-fund badger vaccination outside the IAA at vast expense to the taxpayer represents a further misdirection of funds which could otherwise be used to undertake more meaningful and worthwhile work.
"We would therefore urge you to consider using those funds for more worthwhile purposes.”