Union challenges Defra post movement testing stance

THE FUW has written to Defra to challenge its stance on the post- movement testing rules surrounding the movement of cattle from the Low TB Area of Wales into the Low Risk Area of England. Despite Welsh Government negotiations on the issue, the Defra post-movement testing requirement will remain for farmers moving cattle across the border from Wales and the union has significant concerns regarding the implications of maintaining the status quo and the detrimental impact that this policy will pose to Welsh farmers. The incidence of TB in Wales varies significantly across regions and bovine TB statistics from both Defra and the Welsh Government demonstrate that the Low TB Area of Wales has TB levels which are comparable to, or better than, those provided in the English Low Risk Area. Dr Hazel Wright, FUW senior policy officer said: “By continuing the post-movement testing requirement, Defra has continued to perpetrate misconceptions about the Welsh annual testing regime and has inadvertently classed all Welsh parishes as ‘high risk’ areas. “Defra’s refusal to negotiate with the Welsh Government on this issue is incredibly frustrating given that cattle coming into Wales from the English Low Risk Area are not required to have either a pre- movement test or a post-movement test. “Given the level of TB in the Low TB Area of Wales, and the lack of any relationship between TB risk and the Welsh annual testing regime, the FUW has written to Defra to ask for clarity on the decision making process which led to the continuation of the current cross border post- movement testing requirement.” The FUW believes that the annual testing regime undertaken in Wales means that the actual number of undisclosed breakdowns is likely to be relatively small. The outcome of this negotiation is therefore unwarranted and the FUW awaits correspondence from Defra on the scientific evaluation used in the decision-making process. “FUW members will be disappointed that the Welsh Government was not able secure this key part of the new proposals before the launch of the new regulations. “In light of future Brexit negotiations, the stance taken by Defra on this issue is incomprehensible. “If the devolved administrations cannot treat each other with some sense of equivalence within the UK, then this does not bode well for future relations outside the EU,” added Dr Wright.

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