No de­cline in TB lev­els

Carmarthen Journal - - Farmer - with David Wa­ters, FUW’s Car­marthen­shire County Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer

BOVINE TB con­tin­ues to be a sig­nif­i­cant is­sue for farm­ers across Wales and it is a sub­ject we care about deeply. It has been around 13 months since the es­tab­lish­ment of the re­gion­alised TB pro­gramme in Wales and although the pro­gramme is still at an early stage, the data avail­able does not show any sig­nif­i­cant de­cline in TB lev­els.

Let’s look at some of the statis­tics – data from TB dash­board shows that 94.8% of herds were TB free in Quar­ter 2, 2018, which is a fall com­pared with the same time in the pre­vi­ous year (94.9%).

How­ever, data from De­fra also shows that the num­ber of cat­tle slaugh­tered in Wales be­tween Au­gust 2017 and Au­gust 2018 was just over 10,000. This is a rise of 2.3% on the fol­low­ing year. Sim­i­larly the num­ber of dis­easer­e­stricted herds in Wales has risen from 799 to 824 over the same time pe­riod and last year there was a 75% in­crease in TB in­ci­dents on the pre­vi­ous 12 months in the In­ter­me­di­ate TB Area North.

In re­sponse, Welsh Govern­ment an­nounced that con­tigu­ous herds in this area would be sub­ject to fur­ther two con­tigu­ous tests at six month in­ter­vals. We re­main con­cerned that the ‘go-to’ po­si­tion for TB con­trol in Wales con­tin­ues to cen­tre upon in­creases in cat­tle test­ing, de­spite a frus­trat­ing lack of progress on tack­ling the dis­ease in wildlife.

With all of this in mind, we also re­main con­cerned about the farm-level in­for­ma­tion pro­vided on the Wales ‘ibTB’ bovine TB map­ping in­for­ma­tion sys­tem. This in­for­ma­tion sys­tem re­mains open to the pub­lic and can leave in­di­vid­ual farms, in­clud­ing chronic break­down herds, vul­ner­a­ble to anti-cull ex­trem­ists.

We have writ­ten to the Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary on this is­sue in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber this year and pub­li­cally re­it­er­ated these con­cerns at the re­cent ibTB work­shop. All but one stake­holder at­tend­ing that work­shop in Wales sup­ported the FUW stance on this is­sue.

Given the nu­mer­ous pol­icy and reg­u­la­tory changes re­lat­ing to bovine TB con­trol in Wales, we are clear that there needs to be im­proved con­sul­ta­tion and en­gage­ment with in­dus­try on the ‘next steps’.

The fu­ture of TB con­trol in Wales must in­clude a re­view of the cur­rent mea­sures be­ing un­der­taken in or­der to de­ter­mine if they are fit-for-pur­pose.

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