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Five thousand cattle slaughtered according to NFU Cymru

A farmers' union says 5,000 cattle have been slaughtered in Wales in the first half of this year as a result of bovine TB.

In a speech today the National Farmers Union Cymru will criticise the Welsh government for its badger vaccination policy saying it offers little hope.

The union claims that in some areas so many badgers are already infected that the vaccination policy will make hardly any difference and is a waste of money.

But the Welsh Assembly Government has hit back at the union's claims, saying they are not looking at the long term benefits as a science review had indicated that repeated vaccinations would build up immunity in the badger population and over time this would reduce the risk of transmission to cattle.

Our decision to implement a vaccination programme to tackle the problem in wildlife was made after considering the findings of the science review, legal advice and other evidence provided. The Science Review indicated that repeated vaccination of badgers in an area is likely to build up immunity in the local badger population and it is logical to assume that over time this would reduce the risk of disease transmission to cattle.

"However we know here is no quick fix to tackling this disease . Ours is a long term approach aimed at ensuring sustainable improvements. That is why our programme includes a range of different measures including strict bio security methods and cattle movement restriction."

– Welsh Government spokesperson

The Welsh Government has estimated the costs for the badger vaccination project in North Pembrokeshire over five years at approximately £5,760,000. As a rough guess it must be costing upwards of at least £500 per badger per year to vaccinate, given that vaccination will have no benefit to the significant proportion of badgers in the area already suffering from this disease the actual cost of protection for each healthy badger will be that much greater again."

– Deputy President Stephen James

The union wants to see controversial culling introduced alongside vaccinations which happens in England. It claims farmers in Wales have slaughtered over 75,000 cattle in the last decade due to TB.

At the Welsh Dairy event in Carmarthen today it will say vaccination has a role to play in eradicating the disease but it is not appropriate on its own.