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Farming

Chief vet: ‘bTB at 10 year low’

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BTB has ‘a wildlife reservoir of infection’: Christianne Glossop.

THE CHIEF Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, has said new incidents of bovine TB are at a 10 year low as she addressed some of the misconceptions about the disease picture in Wales.

Speaking at NFU Cymru’s Pembrokeshire Annual General Meeting on Thursday, January 26, the Chief Vet highlighted the progress made, with over 95% of Wales’ herds now TB free.

The Chief Vet also pointed to the increase in cattle slaughtered and stressed that although still a cause for concern, it did not reflect a worsening situation as is often reported.

Instead, the rise is due to an increase in the use of the more sensitive gamma interferon blood test and more severe interpretation of the skin test, both of which are flagging infected cattle in herds with a history of bovine TB at an earlier stage.

This increased sensitivity of testing helps to identify infection sooner and reduces the spread of the disease. The number of cattle slaughtered is expected to fall over time as a result of this approach, and as the number of infected herds continues to reduce.

The Chief Vet also highlighted the Cabinet Secretary’s position on controlling the disease in wildlife, saying an ‘England-style’ cull had been ruled out in Wales.

The Randomised Badger Culling Trial in England showed a net reduction of 16% of new incidents of bovine TB over nine years. In Wales, the number of new incidents recorded has reduced by 47% in eight years through application of increased testing frequency, improved biosecurity and other cattle control measures alone.

However, it is recognised that in a number of long term TB breakdowns, the disease picture points towards a wildlife reservoir of infection.

As a result the Cabinet Secretary has proposed a measured response to controlling the disease in wildlife in Wales. Focussing on these persistent TB breakdowns, where it can be objectively proven badgers are infected, it is proposed the infected groups of badgers are trapped and humanely killed.

The Chief Veterinary Officer reported that work has already started to develop bespoke action plans for each herd, including addressing any wildlife contribution to the problem.

Speaking at the conference, Christianne Glossop said: “We all recognise bovine TB has a significant financial and social impact on farm businesses and the wider rural economy. While it is encouraging to see the number of new herd incidents falling, even in our highest incidence areas, I recognise this is of little comfort to the farms currently suffering a TB breakdown. This is why we are focusing our efforts on eliminating the disease in affected herds.

“The public consultation on our proposed Refreshed Approach to TB eradication is now closed and we welcome the responses we have received. We are committed to eradicating the disease in Wales, but we cannot do this alone. It’s encouraging NFU Cymru has welcomed the plans for a regionalised approach, as this is aimed at protecting the low incidence area while bearing down on the disease elsewhere. This will help us to build on the progress made so far as we progress towards our ambition of a TB-free Wales.”

The refreshed programme is expected to be published in the spring.

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Farming

MP pledges support to British farmers

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MORE than 4,000 jobs in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire rely on farming, Simon Hart MP learned during a special event to Back British Farming.

Farming in the constituency contributes £30.6 million to the local economy – on top of the safe, affordable food farmers produce and the British countryside they maintain.

In addition to its role producing food, farming also supports the work of other industries, such as vets, solicitors, surveyors and feed merchants.

The Back British Farming event in Westminster was held by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) as a rallying call to MPs to support farming – during a particularly crucial period for British farming as the Brexit negotiations begin.

Mr Hart said: “There are so many worthy reasons to support British farmers: they are responsible for securing our fantastic British food supply, looking after our world-renowned countryside and sustaining a dynamic rural economy. That is why I am proud to wear the NFU’s Back British Farming pin badge in Parliament today.

“These reasons are why I have pledged to Back British farming in Westminster and to ensure our decisions in Parliament reflect the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation.

“As one of the sectors that will be most affected by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, it is critical that as politicians we create the right regulatory environment to ensure our farmers can continue to provide the safe and affordable food that the public trust and demand.”

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Farming

MP signs pledge to Back British Farming

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STEPHEN CRABB MP has recognised the vital role that Pembrokeshire farmers have contributing to the economy, the countryside and food production as he pledged to Back British Farming at an event in Westminster this week.

Farming in Pembrokeshire contributes £32.6 million to the local economy and provides 4,570 jobs – this is on top of the safe, affordable food farmers produce and British countryside they maintain.

In addition to its role producing food, farming also supports the work of other local industries, such as vets, solicitors, surveyors and feed merchants.

The event in Westminster was held by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) as a rallying call to MPs to support farming – during a particularly crucial period for British farming as the Brexit negotiations begin.

Stephen Crabb MP said: “There are so many worthy reasons to support British farmers: they are responsible for securing our fantastic British food supply, looking after our world-renowned countryside and sustaining a dynamic rural economy. That is why I am proud to support the NFU’s Back British Farming campaign in Parliament.

“These reasons are why I have pledged to Back British farming in Westminster and to ensure our decisions in Parliament reflect the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation.

“As one of the sectors that will be most affected by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, it is critical that as politicians we create the right regulatory environment to ensure our farmers can continue to provide the safe and affordable food that the public trust and demand.”

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Farming

Backing Welsh farming at PMQs

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Speaking out for Welsh agriculture: Jonathan Edwards

PLAID CYMRU MP Jonathan Edwards has championed NFU Cymru’s Back Welsh Farming campaign during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.

The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP used economic data highlighting the financial contribution of farming to Wales, provided by NFU Cymru, to challenge Prime Minister Theresa May on the future trade prospects for Welsh farmers once the UK leaves the European Union.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions on September 13 – Back British Farming Day – Plaid Cymru’s Jonathan Edwards MP said: “Today is also Back Welsh Farming Day and NFU Cymru estimates that agriculture contributes 60,000 jobs in Wales, as well as half a billion pounds. How will farming be able to continue that contribution once the International Trade Secretary opens up domestic markets to lower food standards whilst simultaneously losing access to our main export market?”

In response, Prime Minister Theresa May stated she was pleased to support farmers in Wales. The Prime Minster said that the Government was looking to leave the European Union with ‘a good trade deal that will continue to enhance trade to take place on a basis that is as friction-free and tariff-free as possible’. She also expressed her belief that exiting the European Union will present Welsh farmers with opportunities to export their produce across the rest of the world.

Jonathan Edwards MP was one of a number of Welsh MPs wearing specially-designed wheat and wool pin badges to show support for the NFU’s Back British Farming Day.

The campaign saw farmers from across Wales write to their MP to highlight why farming is so important to their constituency and Wales as a whole.

NFU Cymru President Stephen James said: “The contribution of food and farming to Wales is extremely important. It is critical to have the support of MPs recognising the value of the sector. Across Wales, farming underpins food production, the countryside and the rural economy. For the future of the nation’s farming sector, the support of politicians is crucial to ensure that our industry receives the best deal possible after Brexit.

“We are grateful to all the Welsh MPs who wore their wheat and wool pin badges to champion the cause of farmers back home in Wales. It was fantastic to see so many MPs showing their support for the industry. We are particularly grateful to Jonathan Edwards for raising his question to the Prime Minister today – it is important that we have voices in the House of Commons who are willing to raise the profile of Welsh farming and champion our cause.”

Speaking after Prime Minister’s Questions, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards, said: “Sadly in her answer to me the Prime Minister talks of fantasy trade deals around the world, forgetting that a staggering 90% of Welsh food and drink export produce goes to EU countries. This isn’t going to be replaced overnight.”

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