New measures around bovine TB eradication will be announced in Wales next week but any changes that could reduce the incidence of this disease are three years too late for one Pembrokeshire dairy farm.

Since 2019 Mary Raymond’s family has had 130 cows slaughtered as a result of TB.

As a 19-year-old at the start of her farming career she describes the situation as “heart-breaking’’.

“I can’t describe the feeling of seeing cows we have bred from calves taken away to be slaughtered, the one word that does sum it up is ‘heart-breaking’,’’ says Mary, of Trenewydd Fach, Croesgoch.

She fears that the herd will never be free of the disease unless the Welsh Government changes the approach to its eradication policy and that one day her family could be forced to give up milk production.  

“Pembrokeshire is seriously affected by TB and as farmers it feels as if we are being left to fight this disease on our own,’’ says Mary, an NFU Cymru Student and Young Farmer Ambassador.

Across Wales, in the year to March 2022 there were 634 new herd incidents and 10,117 cattle slaughtered. A total of 988 herds were under restriction.

While the figure on new herd incidents in those 12 months remains unchanged in Wales, they have fallen by 9% in England where wildlife controls are part of the disease eradication strategy.

The Welsh Government admits that TB in cattle is a “huge challenge’’ and “distressing’’ for farmers who have to deal with it in their herds.

But it defends it TB eradication policy, suggesting that “good progress’’ has been made since it was first established, with long-term decreases in incidence and prevalence.

“This includes new TB incidents decreasing from 1,185 in 2009 to 634 in the 12 months to March 2022, representing a reduction of 46.5%,’’ says its spokesperson.

Part of the solution to the problem is the willingness of people, both in government and the industry, to work together, the government insists.

“We have been clear we can't tackle this disease alone and we all have an important role to play,’’ its spokesperson adds.

“Farmers are at the centre of what we're trying to achieve and we are, of course, listening to them.’’

Wales’ rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths is due to make a statement in the coming weeks on the TB eradication policy.