Farming

Huge rise in TB slaughter for 2016

WELSH GOVERNMENT data has revealed that there was a 37% increase in the total number of cattle slaughtered in the 12 months to the end of May 2016. 

The monthly report includes statistics on tests undertaken, new incidents, herds under restriction and animals slaughtered.

For Wales, the statistics presented in the Defra release are for the current year to date, annual figures for 1996–2015 and by month from January 1996.

There are variations in the monthly figures for a number of reasons, including the seasonal aspect of TB testing (more testing takes place during the winter months than the summer months), impact of unusual weather, number of test reading days in a month, impact of herds where a large number of animals are slaughtered in one month, etc. The data for Wales is not seasonally adjusted so month-on-month comparisons should be treated with caution.

For the purpose of reporting this headline, 12-month figures have been calculated from the monthly figures and comparisons are made only for the last three consecutive 12-month periods between June 2012 and May 2016. Latest period: June 2015–May 2016, second period: June 2014–May 2015, first period: June 2013–May 2014.

Responding to the report, Welsh Conservative Rural Affairs Secretary, Paul Davies AM, said: “These figures act as a timely reminder as to the levels of cattle being slaughtered as a consequence of tuberculosis – a disease which continues to plague our agricultural communities.

“Across Wales, there remains much anger and frustration as to the pace in which the bovine TB issue is being dealt with. With a new administration in place, Labour Ministers must outline its response to the fact there has been a 37% year-on-year increase in the total number of animals slaughtered.

“The Welsh Government cannot continue to dither on this issue. Any strategy to combat TB needs to be hammered out with the close involvement of farmers, farming unions, scientists and rural communities.

“It must be ensured that a programme to combat this virulent disease is all-encompassing and permanent, ending once and for all the financial and emotional strain on Welsh farmers.

“Welsh Conservatives support a comprehensive, scientifically-led programme of bovine TB eradication to deal with the disease in cattle and wildlife.”

Shadow Cabinet member for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Plaid Cymru’s Simon Thomas Mid and West AM, said: “The Welsh Government must commit to using the most effective measures to control and eradicate bovine TB. The Party of Wales is calling on the Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths who is responsible to ensure that testing and movement restrictions are proportionate to the disease status of an area.

“As part of Plaid Cymru’s consultation on the future of rural policies following the decision to leave the European Union, I’ve been listening to the concerns of farmers and their representatives. I’m sure this will be an important part of discussions in the Pembrokeshire County Show.

“Of particular concern for the people I represent is the increase in Carmarthenshire and it is something that I’ll be asking the Welsh Government to look into.”

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Dayne Stone

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