The Minister announced key changes to the testing of cattle that are classed as inconclusive reactors under standard interpretation at the Royal Welsh Show Winter Fair held at Llanelwedd today.
Inconclusive reactors are cattle whose skin tests are between clear and reactor. Currently two re-tests must be carried out on inconclusive reactors before they are removed.
From 1 March 2009 these inconclusive reactor cattle will be removed following one retest if that test is still inconclusive or shows it to be a reactor. Before that date cattle keepers will be able to opt to have their cattle removed earlier in accordance with the new arrangements.
Announcing these additional advances in a further update on the actions of the TB eradication programme.
Elin Jones said:
Today is the first day of the Royal Welsh Winter Fair where the industry gathers to celebrate the best of Welsh livestock. It is fitting that I outline the progress that is being made on the TB eradication programme on this day, and that we make clear our joint commitment with the industry to maintaining and promoting quality cattle production in Wales.
I am pleased to announce today a change in the current policy on TB testing which will further assist us in the fight to reduce the spread of bovine TB. I have authorised officials, working together with Animal Health, to remove inconclusive reactor cattle should they remain inconclusive following their first retest.
The TB Eradication Programme Board unanimously agreed to endorse this change in policy, which is consistent with our overall TB Eradication Strategy, the recommendations of the European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office and the European Directive.
The disease control benefits of this revised policy are clear and, working in association with out TB Health Check testing programme, this new policy will help us as we take preventative and remedial measures to accurately assess the level of the disease in Wales. The sooner inconclusive reactors are removed the less likely they are to spread disease.
The Minister also provided an update of the TB Health Check. In the very first month of operation the TB Health Check has identified a number of additional reactors; including cases in both two yearly and four yearly testing parishes where the herds were not scheduled for a routine test until 2010.
Elin Jones said:
The TB Health Check Wales is clearly proving to be a valuable weapon in our efforts to confront, control and eradicate the disease.
I will continue to emphasise that actions by Government alone cannot defeat this disease. It is vital that all sections of the industry work alongside us and play their part. Farmers can help by co-operating with their vets to have their cattle tested at the appropriate time and by taking action to keep the disease out of their farms and make sure that it is not passed onto other farms in the area.
It is imperative that we deal with all sources of infection to reduce the spread of the disease. Following consultation my officials will be developing a Framework for Preventing and Managing Incidents of TB in Camelids, and as I have mentioned previously a decision on an Intensive Action Pilot Area will be taken in the New Year. I will also be publishing a consultation paper to stakeholders on proposals to link TB compensation payments to good biosecurity and good animal husbandry on farms.
1 December 2008