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FUW issues mental health warning following latest Bovine TB Programme proposals

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has warned that proposals contained within the recent Welsh Government Refreshed TB Eradication Programme consultation could cause significant declines in the mental health of the rural community.

Alongside proposals to significantly reduce the compensation paid for cattle compulsorily slaughtered due to bovine TB, the latest plans, if taken forward, would significantly increase the number of cattle tests being conducted and lengthen the breakdown movement restriction duration by at least two months.

FUW Animal Health and Welfare Committee chairman Ian Lloyd said:

“Irrespective of farm TB history, the stress and anxiety endured during TB testing, and the fear of facing a potential TB breakdown, continues to hammer the mental health of farmers across Wales  and the veterinarians conducting the test.

“Fifty agricultural workers take their own lives each year and veterinarians are 3 to 4 times more likely to commit suicide than any other profession. The Welsh Government must seriously consider the effects its proposals will have on the mental state of the rural community.”
In it’s response to the consultation, the FUW has made clear that it is unacceptable to issue such proposals without any attempt to determine the expected impact on cattle welfare and human health and safety due to the increased gathering and handling required to comply with the testing proposals in the consultation.

Mr Lloyd added that the RABI Big Farming Survey 2020 showed that 31% of the farming community cited financial pressures as a cause of stress.

“The fundamental lack of any impact assessment to ascertain the catastrophic effects that these proposals will incur is wholly disrespectful to the farming community and the enormous challenge that mental health charities supporting the rural community already currently face.

“Collectively these proposals will create a culture of fear and anxiety and directly contradict the aims of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 where public bodies are required to think about the long-term impact of their decisions on the health, economy and communities of Wales,” he said.