DEFRA has been accused of treating English farmers as “second class citizens” over its expected decision against a badger cull to control bovine TB.

Lyndon Edwards, Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers chairman, said the decision was a “disgrace” and warned many dairy farms were on the brink of collapse because of the disease.

Mr Edwards, who has a 200 head organic dairy farm in Chepstow, said he had lost 70 cattle over the last three years, costing him hundreds of thousands of pounds.

On the brink

“As well as the value for the cattle, I am losing half a million litres of milk every year,” he said. “I should be getting 35p/litre for it.”

“Lots of farmers are on the brink of losing their business. What is particularly galling is just over the border in Wales, there is a chief veterinary officer who has a brief to control and eradicate TB.

“Why are we second class citizens?”

Mr Edwards said DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn could next expect the industry to work with government in controlling the disease until farmers felt they were being listened to.

Missed opportunity

“It’s all very well talking about the successes of bluetongue, but what hope is there of people working together now?

“The gloves are off. Farmers will start to refuse to co-operate to Defra’s bovine TB measures and who can blame them.

“Mr Benn has missed a massive opportunity to control TB in both badgers and cattle.

“He talked about public acceptance, but if the public saw the suffering of infected badgers they would be horrified by the lack of animal welfare.”