NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts 3
NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts

NFU wary over Government plans to stop culling of badgers

THE NFU has warned the Government not to take its ‘foot off the gas’ in the fight against TB after Environment Secretary George Eustice outlined plans to phase out the culling of badgers.

Defra has announced a consultation on future TB eradication strategy, which proposes to no longer license badger culls after 2022.

Responding to the consultation, NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said: “Bovine TB continues to devastate farming families up and down the country, causing huge strain mentally, emotionally and financially for farmers. Thousands of farms have seen generations of cattle slaughtered because of the disease, crippling their livelihoods instantly.

“The government’s 25-year TB eradication strategy has provided some real hope to those farmers and it is clearly delivering successful results. The badger cull has played an enormous role in that.

“The government’s own consultation says that incidents of TB in cull areas have dropped by 51% after four years. This clearly shows that, in line with the Randomised Badger Culling Trial, the badger culls are working and that it is essential to keep our focus on eradicating this dreadful disease and using every tool in the box to do so.

“A science and evidence-based approach must continue to drive government’s approach to TB eradication in cattle, at this critical time we cannot have eight years of progress undermined. Right now, the government should be particularly aware of the consequences of taking its foot off the gas when it comes to controlling a disease.

“It is therefore heartening to hear that field trials for a fully authorised cattle vaccine are underway. The Covid-19 vaccine has shone a light on the incredible scientific capability in this country to deal with a zoonotic disease and farmers will be hoping that a fully authorised cattle vaccine can soon become another vital tool in eradicating this dreadful disease.

“Farmers would like to use all effective measures to control this disease but as we know, there is not one single solution and our sole aim is to eradicate TB. But if the Government wants to phase out one successful measure, it must be 100% satisfied that any changes to replace it with an alternative must be proven to be equally effective.

“Make no mistake, this disease continues to devastate farming businesses and their families. More than 27,000 cattle were slaughtered last year as a result of this disease. I am certain that the consequences of these proposals will have severe impacts on the lives of farming families all across the country.

“The NFU will continue to analyse all of the proposals in this document and consult extensively with its members on this incredibly important issue.”

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