The NFU has said its decision to request the government postpone badger culling until next year is ‘responsible and right’.
DEFRA secretary Owen Paterson announced the delay in the House of Commons on Tuesday (23 October).
NFU president Peter Kendall said he understood that the news would come as a devastating blow to farmers who were desperate for a solution to the cycle of reinfection of TB in their beef and cattle herds.
“The NFU and its members take their responsibilities on this issue extremely seriously and I know there will be many who are devastated by today’s news,” he said.
“We have all worked tirelessly to prepare for the delivery of this government policy to see us finally get on top of this terrible disease.”
Mr Kendall said the cull had already been delayed by the appalling weather, the Olympics and Paralympics, and the legal challenges from those against the policy.
Numbers from the badger population survey in the two trial areas had also demonstrated just how large the badger numbers were, which meant meeting the targets required would be a huge challenge.
“We have always said that this is has to be a science-led policy to reduce disease and we have to be confident of achieving the numbers needed for disease reduction,” he said.
“As we rapidly approach winter the odds of achieving that number decrease. This is why, reluctantly, we have taken the decision, with the companies involved, to delay until late spring next year.
“For those that have suggested that this cull is irresponsible, I think today’s decision shows that this is simply not the case. Postponement is the most responsible thing to do. We have said all along that this has never been about killing badgers; this has always been about eradicating disease. It has been about the battle to get on top of the TB on our farms that strikes at the very heart of our beef and dairy herds. “
If you are a livestock farmer affected by the cull postponement and you’d like to comment, you can contact news reporter Phil Case on telephone number 020 8652 4905 or email Philip Case
For more on this topic
More news and background on the badger cull and bovine TB