Briefing the Welsh Assembly on bovine TB

Posted on October 13, 2016 by Neil Paton

One of the reasons I wanted to get involved in BVA was to have the chance to make a positive difference, whether that was to the veterinary profession, the animals under our care or the clients that we serve.

Becoming the President of BVA Welsh Branch has allowed me to do that in a much wider arena by influencing various organisations with BVA policy positions, which I am proud to say have been reached by robust debate amongst members.

Bovine TB: a controversial issue in Wales and beyond

One of the issues that caused much debate within the profession was the control of bovine tuberculosis (TB). Bovine TB has a massive impact on the farming community in Wales, and like the rest of the UK, there are differing opinions as to the approach that needs to be taken, but all involved know we need to do something in order to get on top of the disease.

Along with John Blackwell (BVA’s then Senior Vice President), I was privileged to be able to brief the Assembly Members (AMs) on BVA’s bovine TB (bTB) policy and more importantly the ethics and science of bTB control. The briefing was hosted by Mark Isherwood AM at the Welsh Assembly and attended in person by many Assembly Members including Llyr Gruffydd, Simon Thomas, Michelle Brown, Paul Davies, Russell George, Neil Hamilton and David Melding alongside researchers representing many others.

When trying to influence policy, it’s rare to receive prompt feedback about the impact you’ve had, but in this case the stars were in our favour. Exactly one week after the briefing a debate was held in the Senedd proposed by Simon Thomas.

Every Assembly Member referenced BVA’s policy position and our briefing. More importantly the key messages that we tried to get across were voiced, such as the importance of using all the tools we have in order to control TB, and badger culling is one of those tools but it must be humane and effective. It was pleasing therefore to see that the motion that was put was passed without objection.

Representing BVA members

The Cabinet Secretary will make an announcement over the coming weeks about her strategy for TB control in Wales, and I have no doubt the debate will have had an influence on her thinking. This demonstrates that BVA has an enormous influence on governments in the UK.

At BVA Council regional representatives will voice your views. So make your concerns and opinions known through the BVA community, the Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey or you can contact us by emailing Members in Wales can also email me directly at

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Neil Paton

Written by Neil Paton

BVA Welsh Branch Senior Vice President

Lecturer in Farm Animal Health and Production – Royal Veterinary College

Technical Director of Animal Health and Welfare Wales – Gwaredu BVD