NFU president Peter Kendall has vowed to step up the pressure for a cull of TB-infected badgers after a “deeply disappointing” meeting with DEFRA secretary David Miliband.

Mr Miliband told Mr Kendall this week that plans for a targeted cull of diseased badgers had been put on hold until at least late autumn, while DEFRA vets investigate the cause of an apparent decline in the number of new cases of TB in cattle.

But Mr Kendall said he felt the Secretary of State was using the figures as a pretext for further prevarication. 

He now plans to call a meeting of farming and veterinary stakeholders to step up the pressure for action.

Mr Kendall said: “We have waited long enough for the government to summon the courage to deal with the root cause of the TB disaster, and I’m not prepared to take either no, or wait, for an answer.

“Whatever the extent of the decline in new cases of disease and whatever the cause of it, the fact remains that in the first five months of this year, almost 2000 farms suffered a TB breakdown and over 13,000 cattle were slaughtered.

“Those figures demand action.  They do not excuse inaction.”