Innovation for Agriculture was recently involved in a piece of work for the Welsh TB Engagement Task & Finish Group, formulating recommendations to improve communications and engagement with the farming community around TB control and eradication in Wales.

Following on from this work, IfA were invited to participate in a follow-up workshop held at the Royal Welsh Show, focusing on enhancing the role of the private vet and vet-led team to tackle TB in Wales.

17 participants, including cattle farmers, vets and Gov stakeholders, all came together to explore ways in which private vets, Gov vets (APHA) and farmers (the triad!) can work more closely to:

1) prevent TB breakdowns

2) Provide better support for farmers in the event of a breakdown. For example, are vets intervening at the right time and in the right way? How can vets take more of a lead and become better engaged in the eradication of TB?

The group undertook a timeline activity to discuss what needs to happen in the years before a breakdown, a few months before, during and in the months after, especially for those that may have never been under TB restrictions before.

The workshop conclusions were that more data (i.e., TB testing histories) should be made available and accessible to vets and farmers. Vets should be more enthused and empowered, which in turn will help both farmers and vets to make better, more informed decisions about buying and selling TB risk animals. Taking this into consideration, there should be more incentives for sharing individual animal TB and disease histories, both for the buyer and the seller.

The establishment of vet ambassadors and champions may help engage vets and encourage more action and leadership from vet practices in tackling TB.

The use of technology to automate testing and reporting as well as lay testers could help to alleviate resource and staff issues within the vet profession.

It was concluded that farmers want and need more social support from those that have been through a breakdown themselves – farmer-to-farmer peer support. This would be a more supportive structure than impersonal government letters and notifications. Vets could sign post people to the right support but they themselves may need extra training to help provide more social/mental health support.

Referring to this recent workshop, Rural Affairs minister, Lesley Griffiths, said that a 'Refreshed TB Eradication Programme would build on the positive progress made in Wales'. Click here to find out more about the ongoing work to eradicate TB in Wales.