LATEST figures show an annual rise of 24 per cent in animals slaughtered because of bovine TB.

The Defra figures for the year to October 2019 show 2,742 animals were slaughtered – up from 10,303 on the same period in 2018.

In its statement Defra said: "The overall trend for animals slaughtered due to bovine TB control is variable. Much of the rise since 2014 is attributable to increased use of high-sensitivity testing.

"For example, gamma-testing, removal of inconclusive reactors (IRs) and severe interpretation of the skin test have all been used with the intention of clearing up infection and reducing the risk of the disease spreading and breakdowns recurring."

Shadow environment minister Andrew R T Davies AM said: “Each month, farmers and others in our rural communities anticipate these figures with apprehension, and with good reason.

“The stats for the year to October 2019 show that 12,742 animals were slaughtered because of bovine TB, which – up from 10,303 – is a rise of 24 percent on the same period in 2018. England, by contrast, saw a drop of two per cent.

“Clearly, the Welsh Labour minister for the environment and rural affairs has not got to grips with her brief in the almost four years in post, and farmers – and the rural economy – here in Wales suffer as a result.

“But the suffering is not only financial.

“It was just yesterday in the Chamber that my colleague Paul Davies AM/AC spoke passionately on the subject of farmers enduring mental health problems. Bovine TB is another pressure, another cause of stress that our hardworking farmers and their families suffer, and it’s time it ended.

“A Welsh Conservative Government would develop a new, holistic approach for the eradication of bovine TB and look at all options to achieve this.

“Until then, we will harry this Welsh Labour administration to listen to farmers – as well as the Farmers’ Union of Wales and NFU Cymru – to step up its efforts to control this disease and bring this crisis to an end.”