Thursday, 5 November 2009

FUW welcomes assmbly ratification of TB eradication policy

The Farmers' Union of Wales yesterday described an 83% majority vote by Assembly Members supporting The Tuberculosis Eradication Order 2009 as a victory for common sense and democracy.

The Order gives the Assembly Government the powers to use culling and vaccination of badgers as part of its bTB eradication programme.

Speaking after sitting through the debate, FUW's TB spokesman Brian Walters said: "Assembly Members have already supported the principle of badger culling more than once, and this vote ratifies the cross-party support for that policy.

"During a recent consultation on this issue, 85% of Welsh respondents were in agreement that culling should be considered as part of a bTB control strategy, and I am glad that AMs have recognised the need to act in order to prevent the spread of this devastating disease."

However, Mr Walters, a Carmarthen organic dairy farmer, was concerned that some AMs had allowed themselves to be persuaded to vote against the Welsh Assembly Government.

"Some of those who spoke in support of annulling the Order had clearly failed to understand the scientific evidence on this issue and some AMs even suggested that there was no established link between bTB in cattle and badgers, which goes against the opinion of every single expert on the matter.

"The chairman of the Rural Affairs Sub Committee, Alun Davies, made a crucial point that, when you analyse the evidence properly, as his committee has done, it points to infected badgers being largely responsible for the epidemic we are now facing."

Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones told AMs that the order had been laid following a 14-week public consultation and was fully supported by scientific evidence.

Last year, over 12,000 cattle were culled in Wales because of bTB and nearly £25 million was spent in compensation. Wales has already slaughtered over 8,000 cattle this year. This time last year it was just over 7,000.

By 2014, the cost to the taxpayer could be £80 million if action to eradicate TB in cattle is not taken.


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