A ‘REFRESHED’ approach to the problem of bovine TB by the Welsh Government has ruled out a widespread cull but is prepared to target badgers found to be diseased.

And the strategy received a cautious welcome from farming unions but fell short of the full cull farmers in Pembrokeshire have been calling for.

Bovine TB is the biggest threat to beef and dairy farmers across large parts of Wales. Over the past 12 months nearly 9,500 cattle have been slaughtered as a result of this disease, a 38% increase from last year.

The situation is even worse in endemic areas of the country with Pembrokeshire suffering a 40% increase in slaughtered cattle.

Since January 1996 the number of animals slaughtered in Wales as a result of bovine TB has reached a staggering figure of 118,488 animals - that is equivalent to 23% of the cattle on farms across Wales today.

NFU Cymru described the new measures as a step forward in that Government has recognised the link between cattle and wildlife in TB transmission, and is prepared to consider all options to address this matter.

The FUW said the badger test-and-cull type approach was a small step in the right direction.

In her announcement yesterday (Tuesday, October 18) Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths proposed splitting Wales into five regions – one ‘low TB’ area, two ‘intermediate TB’ areas and two ‘high TB’ areas, with differing approaches to eradication in each area.

The whole of west Wales including Gower would fall within the high TB zone.

FUW President Glyn Roberts, said: “Targeting infected badgers would be a welcome move, but it is disappointing that it has taken so many years to move back towards common sense after the original comprehensive plan to tackle the disease in wildlife was abandoned by the previous Welsh Government.”

NFU Cymru president Stephen James said: “Clearly the proposals put forward by Welsh Government will ratchet up the control measures and restrictions on cattle keepers in many parts of Wales. What’s missing is the lack of specific detail provided by Welsh Government on when the disease problem in wildlife which exists in parts of the country will be adequately addressed.”

Both unions expressed reservation about the zoning policy and how it would operate.