Farmers in England are being urged to give their opinions on proposals to cull badgers in a bid to eradicate bovine TB.

The NFU is calling on farmers to respond to plans announced by farm minister Jim Paice earlier this month as part of a consultation on ways to tackle bovine TB.

The union is holding a series of meetings with members over the next 12 weeks to discuss details of the consultation, which include plans to grant groups of farmers licences to shoot badgers.

NFU president Peter Kendall urged every farmer to attend a meeting to understand in more detail what the proposals might mean for them.

“I understand there will be individuals and groups who will be opposed to these proposals but I firmly believe that it is in everyone’s interest that we seek to control the spread of bovine TB,” he said.

“Our common purpose is to have healthy cattle and healthy badgers.

“Many farmers live with the reality of bovine TB day in day out.

“The disease brings untold misery, stress and worry and has an enormous emotional impact on farming families as they work to keep up with this terrible cycle of infection and re-infection.

“There’s also the huge impact this disease has on farming businesses through movement restrictions and the needless slaughter of cattle – bovine TB acts like a break on competitiveness and destroys years of hard work.”

The consultation closes on 8 December 2010. The government will then publish a bovine TB eradication programme in early 2011.

• For more details and to have your say, see our Badger Cull special report.

Meetings are scheduled to take place on:

28 September, 8.30pm, Puxton Park, Somerset

29 September, 10am, Beef Expo Exeter

29 September, 3pm, Cirencester Market

7 October, 7.30pm, Salwey Arms, Woofferton, Ludlow

8 October, 12pm, Three Counties Showground, Malvern

14 October, 12pm, East Midlands, venue TBC

25 November, 11am, Truro Market

25 November, Exeter, details TBC

25 November, Dorset Annual Open Meeting, details TBC

26 November, 10.30am, Devon Annual Meeting, Tiverton