During a plenary session in the Senedd on Tuesday 14 November, the Minister for Rural Affairs made a statement on Bovine TB Eradication. During the ensuing discussion, Mid & West Wales MS Joyce Watson said in relation to bTB strategy:
“But if we’re talking about a rethink, Minister, have you looked at any farms that have perpetual TB status, and have you considered the question of whether those particular farms should be dairy farms at all? Because if it is the case that they are in perpetual TB infection status, surely they need to find another business.” Joyce Watson MS
Those comments have been met with anger by many within the farming industry, prompting NFU Cymru to write to the MS to underline the hurt such comments have caused to the many farming families affected by bovine TB not just in Joyce Watson’s region of Mid & West Wales, but across the country.
In the letter, NFU Cymru Bovine TB Focus Group Chairman Roger Lewis said: “I was truly saddened and disappointed to hear your insensitive comments in the Senedd following the statement made by Minister Lesley Griffiths in relation to the Bovine TB Eradication Programme. I am struggling to put into words my frustration that a Member of the Senedd elected to represent Mid & West Wales could make such deplorable comments, so lacking in empathy and respect for the farming families in your constituency going through the emotional hell of dealing with an outbreak of bovine TB on their farm. Your suggestion that these families, many of whom are suffering persistent bovine TB breakdowns despite adhering to strict veterinary and scientific advice, should just walk away and find another business is – frankly – shocking.
Chink of light
“In the debate yesterday, the Minister and opposition spokespeople positively referred to the Pembrokeshire Bovine TB Project, a project led by local farmers and vets seeking to find solutions to this disease within the constraints that have been set by Welsh Government policy decisions. I am proud to be a part of this initiative and sincerely hope that the project can give a chink of light to those farming families and businesses that, yesterday, you appeared to completely dismiss.
"We find these comments absolutely deplorable." NFU Cymru Deputy President @AbiReader— NFU Cymru 🚜 (@NFUCymru) November 15, 2023
NFU Cymru has written to Joyce Watson MS to underline the hurt such comments have caused to the many farming families affected by bovine TB.
“I invite you to spend a day with us to learn more about this work. A visit would also provide you with the opportunity to meet some of the farming families who are determined to find a way to rid this disease from our countryside and certainly have no intention of walking away and finding something else to do, as you suggested yesterday.”