FARMING unions have welcomed an announcement made by the Cabinet Secretary that changes will be made to the on-farm slaughter policy for bovine TB reactors.

Huw Irranca-Davies confirmed on Friday that he will accept the recommendations in full from the Bovine TB Technical Advisory Group’s (TAG) regarding the on-farm slaughter of TB reactors.

Farmers will be able to choose to delay the slaughter of heavily pregnant bTB reactor animals until after calving. Alongside this, there will be the option to delay reactor removal if the animal is very close to the end of a drug withdrawal period. In addition, a working group, which will include representatives from farming and the veterinary profession, will be created to explore further policy changes related to the on-farm slaughter of reactor animals, including those that are within a medicine withdrawal period.

Dai Miles, FUW Deputy President said: “We welcome the pace at which this process has taken place and hope that these actions can be implemented as soon as possible to reduce the occurrence of on-farm slaughter. The effects of this process has a long-term detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of our farming families.

“However, we must not forget that the need to discuss the subject of alleviating the horrors of on-farm slaughter looks to remedy the symptom rather than address the root cause of the issue. This continues to be the abysmal track record of a long standing ineffective TB eradication programme in Wales.”

NFU Cymru TB Focus Group Chairman Roger Lewis said: “The on-farm slaughter of bTB reactors causes untold distress to farming families across Wales and the emotional impact on those involved cannot be underestimated. It is therefore welcome news that the Cabinet Secretary has listened to our concerns and has accepted the recommendations from the Bovine TB TAG to make changes to this policy.

“Today is only the first step, NFU Cymru stands ready to engage further with Welsh Government and the wider industry as part of the working group announced by the Cabinet Secretary today, to consider other ways of reducing the number of bTB reactors slaughtered on Welsh farms.”