Welsh natural resources minister Alun Davies has welcomed figures indicating the level of incidence of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in Wales has significantly reduced.
In a statement to assembly members, he spoke of the importance of working in partnership with farmers, the veterinary profession and the agricultural industry to reach the shared goal of eradicating the disease in Wales.
Mr Davies said new incidences of the disease were down by nearly a quarter on the previous year. Between December 2012 and November 2013 there were 880 new herd incidents compared to 1,145 new herd incidents in the previous year, which represents a 23% reduction.
In the same period, the number of cattle slaughtered for bTB control also reduced from 9,364 to 6,275 (a 33% drop).
This compares favourably with UK total figures that show a 6% reduction in new herd incidents and a 14% reduction in the numbers of cattle slaughtered for control.
Mr Davies said: “Bovine TB is a devastating disease that has a financial and social impact on farmers and the wider community in Wales. We know there is no quick fix to eradicating the disease from Wales. It will take many years and requires the whole industry to work together.
“The first stage of an eradication programme must be to stop the increase of the disease. The latest figures suggest we have reached this first point.
“I am delighted that overall the figures have come down; however, we cannot be certain this is a long-term trend and there may still be more fluctuation in the figures.”
Mr Davies also announced Wales would host a world Mycobacterium bovis conference in June 2014 and that the Welsh Government would be actively seeking to learn from the experience of a number of other countries that have made great progress towards eradicating bTB.
The Welsh Government will also share details of its own eradication programme, which includes tackling all sources of infection and looking at the disease on a regional and national level.
- The statistics are available to view on the Welsh Government website.