Pedigree breeders facing new bTB cash crackdown; BUT MINISTER RULES OUT TABULAR VALUATIONS.
Byline: ANDREW FORGRAVE Rural Affairs Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid's rural affairs spokesman, was puzzled by the need to set such an arbitrary ceiling on payments. "This seems to be setting a cap on the Government's recognition of quality livestock," he said. Moves to introduce large contracts for bTB testing have the potential to undermine local veterinary practices, he added.
"This new proposal needs to be accessible to smaller businesses across Wales," he said. North Wales AM Antoinette Sandbach said it remains to be seen how the Welsh Government's cut to the rural budget will affect TB compensation.
But she added: "This decision is a welcome one as the red meat industry is facing considerable pressures from falls in market prices."
OWNERS of high-value pedigree cattle will face tougher scrutiny over bovine TB compensation - but will not have to contend with tabular valuations, the Welsh Government has announced.
Rebecca Evans, deputy minister for farming, said she will not be introducing tabular valuations for farmers whose animals are culled to prevent the spread of bovine TB.
She also rejected proposals for a hybrid system in which pedigree and commercial cattle are valued in different ways.
Farm unions and opposition AMs welcomed the decision as a "victory for commonsense".
But Mrs Evans revealed a sting in the tail designed to lower the Welsh Government's TB pay-outs.
Not only will compensation payments be capped at PS15,000, the "justification threshold" for pedigree claims is being lowered to PS3,000, above which valuers must provide extra evidence to support their valuations.
A review of Veterinary Improvement Notices may also see them used more widely to improve biosecurity on farms.
Mrs Evans said the changes would ensure farmers were compensated fairly. Cardiff also Rebecca | hopes they will appease the EC which has been critical of Wales' TB payments system. Valuations of Welsh cattle are often "signifi-cantly higher" than for animals in England, said Mrs Evans.
She said: "I have instructed my officials to introduce measures to further scrutinise valuations and valuers to prevent overcompensation."
The farm unions opposed the introduction of tabular valuations which, through the use of average values, would probably have under-valued Evans good animals and over-valued poor ones.
CLA Cymru said "average" livestock values reported from auction marts no longer fully represented true livestock values, as the best quality stock was often sold through other routes.
FUW vice president Brian Walters added: "Tabular values could act as a disincentive to keeping higher value animals, particularly in areas where TB is prevalent.
"Indeed the tabular system could have had a negative effect on the use of herd improvement technologies such as genetic and genomics."
In 2013 only six animals were compensated above PS15,000 and
Rebecca Evans |