Farming union calls for 'decisive action' on bovine TB

A cow in a field, behind barbed wire.

A farmers' union has called on the Welsh Government to take decisive action to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (TB).

NFU Cymru said a sharp increase in the number of cattle slaughtered in Pembrokeshire is "hugely damaging".

The remarks come on the opening day of the Pembrokeshire County Show.

The Welsh Government said it would continue to tackle all sources of infection "in the most appropriate way to address the TB situation in Wales".

Statistics recently released by the Welsh Government revealed that in the 12 months to May 2016, 8,973 cattle were slaughtered in Wales due to bovine TB - a 37% increase on the previous year.

In Pembrokeshire, 2,652 cattle were slaughtered in the same period - a 61% increase on the previous year.

However, the number of new herd incidents of the disease in Wales had dropped by 17%.

Measures 'not working'

Speaking at the Pembrokeshire County Show, near Haverfordwest, NFU Cymru president and dairy farmer Stephen James said: "This scale of loss is hugely damaging and totally unsustainable for the industry in Pembrokeshire.

"These latest figures are a clear illustration that the measures currently in place to eradicate this disease are not working in parts of the country like Pembrokeshire where the disease is also endemic in the wildlife population.

Image caption Some farmers support a badger cull to help eradicate TB in cattle

"If we are to eradicate bovine TB in Wales then this government has to support the implementation of a policy that will actively remove the disease from the wildlife population in areas of Wales where both cattle and badgers are suffering."

A spokesman for the Welsh Government said the environment and rural affairs secretary would consider options for a "refreshed" TB programme over the coming weeks.

"As part of that, she will be considering the wildlife issue alongside new cattle and biosecurity measures," the spokesman said.

"It is clear from the epidemiological evidence presented to date that we should be exploring a more targeted approach at farm and area level."

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