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Bovine TB figures cause political row

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: February 27, 2014

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THE bovine TB crisis has sparked a parliamentary clash over figures showing new herd reactors dropped in Wales by nearly a quarter last year.

Wales farm minister Alun Davies suggested that the figures showed his government's approach was working but England's was not.

But his Conservative opposition spokesman, Russell George, told him that was not how farmers were viewing their situation.

Mr George described the atmosphere at a meeting of farmers. He said: "There was a significant amount of anger and frustration that still not enough is being done to tackle the reservoir of infection in the wild, and that the Welsh Government still does not have a grip on the situation.

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"There was a strong feeling that farmers are still experiencing many of the burdens and the costs that bovine TB bring, yet the government was not prepared, or was reluctant, to take responsibility for its share of the eradication plan."

Mr Davies said if Mr George wanted to see a system that's not working "he should go across the border to England".

"You will see in Wales that the number of cattle slaughtered in the last year is down 33%; the equivalent statistic for the rest of GB is 14% – less than half.

"In terms of the number of herds being affected by bovine TB, we have seen reductions of 23%; the equivalent number in England is 6%."

He insisted his government's programme was working: "I believe that we are making significant progress towards bovine TB control and eradication.

"There are some real challenges and hurdles to overcome, and we must continue with our comprehensive approach, which is aimed at dealing with all sources of infection, to achieve our long-term goal of being bovine TB free."

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