8. Statement by the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd: Controlling BVD in cattle and scab in sheep in Wales

Part of the debate – in the Senedd at 5:58 pm on 31 January 2023.

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Photo of Lesley Griffiths Lesley Griffiths Labour 5:58, 31 January 2023

Thank you. I'm disappointed to hear your disappointment, Mabon, because, as I said, we've made some significant progress—over 80 per cent of herds have been tested while we've had the voluntary scheme. And while there has been a call for legislation, you heard me say in my earlier answer to Sam Kurtz that it was really important that we had that evidence that was needed to go ahead with the legislation, and we are indeed having that legislation. You ask about a timescale, and it will be within the next financial year that we will bring the legislation forward. So, I do hope you will welcome that.

I would urge all cattle keepers to keep testing a small sample of their cattle. The cost is estimated between £50 and £150 per year, so it's not a significant amount of funding that's required. Obviously, the cost-benefit ratio of eliminating BVD is hugely positive, and, I think, a very worthwhile investment in any farming business. 

In relation to the sheep scab eradication programme funding, it is the same funding, as I said in my earlier answer to Sam Kurtz. I did make the announcement back in 2019 and I had hoped to bring the scheme forward much quicker than we have, but we did repurpose the funding during COVID, so that money was used then. So, it's the same money, if you know what I mean, within that announcement back in 2019. 

Again, you will have heard me answer the concerns around Natural Resources Wales. They do expect that increase to only affect a small number of farms. I wouldn't want that to be used as an excuse not to treat sheep scab, and make sure that everyone does take part in this all-Wales sheep scab eradication programme. The Government can't do on its own, and I can see that the industry can't do on its own, but it's really important we work in partnership.