Susie Mottershead- 'It was without doubt an emotional evening'

It was clear as you listened to farmers voices breaking with emotion as they shared the impact of bTB on their farms and families that the mental health impact on every farmer sat in that room was huge.

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Susie Mottershead- 'It was without doubt an emotional evening'

It was clear as you listened to farmers voices breaking with emotion as they shared the impact of bTB on their farms and families that the mental health impact on every farmer sat in that room was huge.

Last nights NFU Cymru Bovine TB meeting was a foundation for partnership working with farmers, vets, Animal Plant Health Agency ( APHA), Government and the Chief Veterinary officer, all in one room. A forum to present, share, listen and hopefully drive change.

As farmers started to filter into Holt lodge 30 minutes before the meeting was due to start it was clear this was going to be a well-attended session, on a subject that resonates with the whole farming community. The room was full!

Roger Lewis, TB Focus group chair opened by sharing an update on the work being done in Wales to tackle bTB. His belief that farmers need to take ownership is a message that resonated with audience.

A desire to provide farmers with an armoury of data to drive more tactical herd decisions.

He highlighted the 3 million of investment ploughed into Aberystwyth University to tackle bTB. A massive weapon in our armoury.

APHA and Menter a business faced ridicule during their presentations with frustration openly shared at the insulting notion that bTB cases are falling.

APHA however gave a balanced synopsis of the testing procedures and outcomes in place. But the question many of us wondered is how can we eradicate bTB if the most common test we use misses 1 in 5 animals?

It was without doubt an emotional evening. It was clear as you listened to farmers voices breaking with emotion as they shared the impact of TB on their farms and families that the mental health impact on every farmer sat in that room was huge.

Welsh farming charities were unanimous in their call for mental health to be addressed by Welsh Government.

The Farming Community Network representative described farmers as being treated worse than animals and there was a strong plea to government to look more closely at the welfare of their farmers.

The DPJ Foundation shared the heart-breaking update that most of their calls are related to bTB and are made by farmers wives and even children calling because they bear witness to the trauma unfolding.

What was undeniably clear throughout the meeting was the elephant in the room. If we put science at the heart of tackling TB we must explore and examine all causes of infection.

Farmers were clear that science must drive bTB policy not politics or personal opinions. Farmers were clear that the desire to support, act and drive bTB eradication is their priority.

We must as farmers remain positive. NFU Cymru, deputy president, Abi Reader shared the impending improvements in calf licensing on the back of great work done by the bTB calf group.

We also must take strength in the collaborative groups being constructed to focus on further bTB change. The new CVO described the disease as a massive challenge which can only be addressed through partnership working.

I applaud those that joined us last night from APHA & the Government policy team and extend the invite to our Minister Lesley Griffiths. In this war we must continue to work as a team, trust in the science, and have difficult conversations to enable us to build an armoury that can truly defeat bTB once and for all.