Livestock farmers in the south-west are so angry about the government’s failure to grasp the nettle on badger culling that they are threatening non-compliance with current measures in an effort to change the law.

Richard Haddock, the NFU’s livestock board chairman, said farmers were furious that the government had not offered a full package to control bovine TB, instead imposing further red tape and costs on producers with no promise to introduce a badger cull.

“The NFU should be clearly saying no to paying for pre-movement testing,” said Mr Haddock.

“There is no scientific evidence behind it and there is no money to pay for it.”

Tabular valuations were also unpopular, he said, with many farmers demanding independent valuations on appeal.

“We are not prepared to co-operate with the government unless they come up with these other measures.

We will work with them to control wildlife provided we are allowed gassing and shooting.

And we are prepared, in Devon, to hold a trial to show them how to do that.

But it has to be a real partnership, not a one-way partnership.”

Robert Forster, chief executive of the National Beef Association, said a badger cull would have to be far more widespread than originally forecast, forcing the government to hold a public consultation.

But he did expect DEFRA to announce a cull in June 2006.

However, it was essential that farmers proved they could work with DEFRA and assist in an effective cull, said Mr Forster.

“I can’t stress enough how unhelpful non-compliance would be.”