Montgomeryshire AM disgusted by appalling allegations of bad practice against farmers

2009 Tachwedd 6 9:34 AM

Montgomeryshire AM Mick Bates was disgusted by allegations of bad practice levelled against farmers by Assembly Members in the Chamber today, during a debate on the strategy to eradicate TB in Wales. As costs of compensation rise to over £15million per year and the number of cattle slaughtered exceeds over 29,000, despite continued tightening of biosecurity measures on farms across the country, Mick Bates has welcomed the continued commitment to eradicate TB.

Commenting, Welsh Liberal Democrat Mick Bates stated:

"I am disgusted by the appalling allegations of bad practice levelled against farmers in Wales. Bovine TB is a disease which affects both conventional and organic farms and the blame cannot be hurled at famers, many of whom have cared for their herds since birth, with tight biosecurity measures and high standards of farming practice.

"I have been saddened to meet many farmers who have been distraught to watch their herd slaughtered due to TB, families close to retirement left with a compensation scheme which cannot match the cash value of their animals and cannot replace what was lost - a lifetime of dedication and hard work devoted to the breeding of prime stock with an international reputation, all destroyed because TB found its way onto their ground.

"Bovine TB is one of the biggest challenges facing rural Wales and I welcome the continued commitment by the Welsh Assembly Government to pursue an integrated programme for the eradication of TB across the country. This will include the slaughter of all cattle infected with TB, increased surveillance and testing, better biosecurity, reform of the compensation regime, as well as a trial cull.

"We can no longer sit back and let this disease continue to spread, if we do not take action now then in a few years time we will no longer have a dairy sector in Wales. In Northern Ireland the Government has now identified wildlife reservoirs as being a likely reason for the continued persistence of Bovine Tuberculosis and recently agreed to a joint industry and government approach, with the first phase of the strategy including developing plans for a badger removal trial.

"I strongly support the use of vaccinations but significant research and testing would be required before a cattle vaccine could be introduced, as well the need for legislative amendment at both UK and EU level. Any benefits will not be evident for several years and during this time the number of cattle slaughtered could exceed 50,000 animals a year.

"I am pleased to note that Defra allocated an additional £20million into the badger and cattle vaccine development programme and look forward to this being available in the future, but in the meantime I support action to tackle TB now, so that wildlife and cattle, whose suffering is so often neglected in this debate, can be rid of this horrific disease."

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