PLANS to fine farmers for being late in having their cattle tested for TB have been slammed as ‘lacking in common sense’.
Alun Davies, Minister for Natural Resources, is clamping down on farmers who are late getting their cattle tested for TB.
As part of the bovine TB eradication programme, cattle keepers in Wales are required to get their cattle tested every 12 months.
The minister has introduced penalties of one per cent of the Common Agricultural Payments for farmers who are between one day and three months late for their TB test.
North Wales AM, Llyr Gruffydd, said any new system needed to use common sense so that farmers were not unfairly punished.
He said: “We need a degree of common sense about this before farmers start to lose money from their CAP payments. There may, in some circumstances, be good reasons why the testing has not taken place within the time limit and I trust the minister will establish whether there are situations where a fine would not be appropriate. We need a system that is firm but fair.”
Farmers and union leaders were also wary of the new rules.
FUW officer Rhys Roberts said: “Farmers are frightened, they don’t know which way to turn.
“They don’t have the time to do what they should be doing. It’s just another rule being imposed without any allowance for common sense.”
Llanfwrog farmer Wynn Jones said: “It seems to be a very draconian reponse. I don’t believe there had been any consultation with the unions.
“There can be very legitimate reasons for being late. I understand there has to be some sort of penalty in place but there doesn’t seem to be any leeway in this.”
This penalty is in addition to cattle keepers who are currently penalised three per cent of their CAP when found at cross compliance inspection to be between three and 12 months late for their TB test. This increases to 5 per cent of their payment if they are over 12 months late.
The minister, Alun Davies, said: “We are committed to ridding Wales of bovine TB and an important element of our eradication programme is identifying the disease quickly through regular testing.
“The vast majority of farmers in Wales already comply with annual TB testing and arrange their tests in good time. However, a small minority do not and this undermines our eradication programme and increases the risk of TB. That is why I have introduced this additional penalty that applies to all late TB tests from 1 January 2014.”