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Farmers warn TB now worse than foot and mouth; AMs to visit Ireland in bid to beat disease.

Byline: By ANDREW FORGRAVE Rural Affairs Editor

WELSH policitians are to visit Ireland next month following claims by farmers that bovine TB is now "worse than foot-and-mouth".

Members of the Assembly's countryside committee want to learn more about how the Irish government has tackled the disease.

It follows continued criticism of the Assembly's stance and rising alarm about next month's introduction of new pre-movement testing rules for cattle.

The Livestock Auctioneers' Association is considering making an application for a Judicial Review of the new regulation, due on February 20.

Worried that some livestock markets may close, the LVA is also seeking independent expert advice on the likely effects of the new procedures.

Glyn Davies, chairman of the Assembly's countryside committee, said: "Bovine TB is causing devastation to Welsh farming and many farmers are now telling me this disease is worse than foot-and-mouth."

Widespread badger culls in Ireland's Four Areas trials produced lower levels of bovine TB, though conservationists say the disease was simply relocated through badger migration.

Similar findings were reported by the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) last month when Defra announced consultations on possible licensed badgers culls over 100 sq km in TB hotspots.

Last week however the ISG circulated a letter saying the consultation was flawed and that for culls to be effective they must be over 300-400 sqkm.

Meanwhile, according to the Badger Trust, Defra's own Science Advisory Council (SAC) has also thrown a spanner in the works by claiming that badger culling is "unlikely to be an effective control measure" for bovine TB.

SAC emphasises that TB control measures based on cattle must be implemented successfully before badger culls are considered.

But the NFU and Farmers For Action say its members will not cooperate on pre-movement testing without a badger cull. Some vets have also said they don't have the resources to offer pre-movement testing.

Wales countryside minister Carwyn Jones was tackled about TB at an on-farm meeting in Crai, Sennybridge, last week.

He said he would be guided by the Assembly's TB action group following the on-going dead badger survey in Wales.

But the minister was accused of "failing to listen to the needs of farmers in Wales" by Welsh Lib Dem AM Mick Bates.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 26, 2006
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