Livestock movements during a bovine TB breakdown can be made using a single general licence in Wales from 2 October 2023, replacing the need for individual movement licences.

It comes after the NFU Cymru TB Focus Group Chairman, led by Pembrokeshire dairy farmer Roger Lewis, lobbied the Welsh government for a change to simplify the process for farmers

Mr Lewis says the new system is “extremely welcome news’’ and will “make a real difference’’ to farmers across Pembrokeshire and the rest of Wales who are operating their businesses under TB restrictions.

The rule change, which he described as a “win win’’, will allow a general licence to be used to move TB restricted cattle either directly or via an approved dedicated ‘orange market’ in Wales or England to an Approved Finishing Unit (AFU) or a slaughterhouse. In England it will also apply to an Approved Finishing Unit (Enhanced) with grazing.

Businesses subject to TB restrictions currently have to apply to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha) in advance every time they want to move cattle to an approved finishing unit or another licensed unit.

NFU Cymru said the change was needed not only to make the process easier for farmers but to ease Apha’s workload too.

Mr Lewis, who produces milk at Milton, said it would reduce the red tape associated with moving animals, especially calves and youngstock, off the farm during a TB breakdown without compromising disease control.

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Under the existing system, farmers can experience delays in having individual licences for each animal processed.

This, said Mr Lewis, often leads to farmers missing slots for getting animals into biosecure outlets.

The new general licence, known as licence TB16e, will be valid for the period between short-interval tests.

Farmers will need to apply to Apha for a new licence after each short-interval test.

In the year up to June 2023, 608 cattle herds – 5.3% of the national herd - were not officially TB-free due to a bovine TB incident, an increase of 1.2% on the previous 12 months.