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Disease must be eradicated

By Carmarthen Journal  |  Posted: June 13, 2012

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LAST week's edition of the Carmarthen Journal carried a front page headline 'Why are badgers more important?' and an article which continued on page 5, where a film about culling of Dai Bevan's longhorn cattle, Mayday at Heolfawr Cross, was highlighted.

No scientific evidence was provided in the film of the source of the bTB outbreak and in the absence of such evidence can I suggest that it was as a result of cattle to cattle transmission? This is often proved to be the case when scientific studies are carried out. It was openly stated that other farms in the area had suffered bTB breakdowns.

We were also shown pictures of this farmer's cattle at a show. Until recently no pre-movement test was required when moving cattle to shows in the UK. In regard to the pre-movement test, it is acknowledged that it is only 80 per cent accurate at identifying infected cattle. Recent scientific ground-breaking studies have shown that this figure could be seriously optimistic.

If he believes that wildlife are the main problem (which they are not) has he made any attempt to keep wildlife away from his buildings? Most mammals; wild, feral or domestic, can carry this disease. His cattle could have been infected by any one of them.

He states that "nothing is being done and no one has the b***s to tackle the problem". Well, this is not true. As a result of the Assembly Government being stricter on bTB regulations, recently a large reduction in bTB in cattle (nearly 40 per cent) in parts of Wales has been achieved , without killing any badgers.

The Welsh Government is about to carry out badger bTB vaccination, which will remove them from the bTB picture and protect them from picking up bTB from cattle. Has he or the farming unions ever campaigned, in the last 70 years, for a cattle TB vaccine? Vaccines have proved fundamental in the fight against many cattle, animal and human diseases.

The Independent Scientific Group on cattle TB spent £30million of taxpayers' money, took 10 years and culled 1,100 badgers to come to the conclusion that "badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the control of cattle TB in Britain". To say that nothing is being done, is not correct. The film shows the killing of cattle, which is of course most unpleasant, especially as the farmer intimates that these are his friends. However, we have to realise that this is normally the way cattle end their lives; with or without bTB, in a slaughter house. Surely cattle are kept on farms so that farmers can sell the milk and /or meat for profit. I understand that Dai Bevan has been perfecting the genetics of his herd for the best of intentions, not only for a prize at the shows ; but surely he must accept that everyone is desperate to eradicate this awful disease as quickly as possible and we must all do everything in our power to comply with the regulations and guidelines laid down by the Welsh Government.

David Petersen

St Clears

Farming union's lively debate on TB threat — Farming, page 42

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