Following the government announcement of a postponement to the proposed pilot badger culls, NFU president Peter Kendall has written to his organisation’s members to explain its position. Below is the complete text of that letter.

Dear member,

It is with deep regret and massive disappointment that I have to inform you of the decision to postpone the two pilot badger culls.

This policy has been the focus of enormous organisational resource over the past year and we have seen a Herculean effort by our staff, by the directors and organisers of the companies running the pilots and by many of you. Therefore, I appreciate that this news will be a real blow for everyone involved in making this policy work. We have really been up against it in terms of timing; there was need to avoid any overlap with the Olympics and Paralympics, which set the start date back right from the start. We were then subject to further delay as a result of the legal challenges by the Badger Trust. On top of this we all know as farmers how awful the weather has been this summer and autumn.

In addition to the timing issue we have very recently seen a significant increase in the estimates of badger numbers that we would be required to cull.

This led us to conclude that if we proceeded under these circumstances we ran a very high risk of falling short of the new higher numbers needed to demonstrate that the policy worked. Failure to demonstrate that the policy worked would have stopped it dead in its tracks with no prospect of future roll out.

Therefore, along with the directors of the companies we have taken the decision not to proceed at this stage and to delay activity until as early as possible next year.

This is regrettable, but there is a positive side to this. Going next year we will have a clear idea of the number of badgers we will need to remove, we will be able to gear up our preparations to achieve that target and, above all, we will be operating at a much more favourable time of the year.

“Let me make it absolutely clear: the cull in the pilot areas has been postponed until next year, it has not been abandoned.”
Peter Kendall

Let me make it absolutely clear: the cull in the pilot areas has been postponed until next year, it has not been abandoned.

I am acutely aware of the desperate need to see the start of a removal of the reservoir of disease in badgers and we have received assurances from the coalition government that every effort will be made to ensure the pilots will go ahead in 2013. This is what the secretary of state Owen Paterson has said today;

“The government is determined to tackle bovine TB by all the means available to us. Now, in the next few months, we will ensure that the pilot culls can be implemented effectively, in the best possible conditions, with the right resources.

Having looked at all the evidence over many years, I am utterly convinced that badger control is the right thing to do, and indeed the higher than expected badger numbers only serve to underline the need for urgent action. I remain fully committed to working with the farming industry to ensure that the pilot culls can be delivered effectively, safely and humanely next summer.”

Our opponents will try to claim that we will never be able to deliver this policy. They are wrong. Some will claim that we will not be able to meet the costs – this is not correct and we have never made that argument. Others will say we have pulled out because of intimidation.

Again, this is absolutely not the case and I am immensely proud at the way farmers, and particularly those in the pilot areas, have demonstrated their resolution and solidarity.

I have been enormously proud of the organisational efforts and in particular by the many late nights and long days put in by our dedicated staff across the country. I owe them a big thank you. We will regroup; this is a delay in implementing the policy and not a change of policy. You have my commitment that we will carry on with all the work that is needed to make sure that we are in a position to deliver the pilot areas as early as possible next year.

Yours sincerely,
Peter Kendall

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