Speaking to Farmers Weekly, farmers in the north shared their reactions to DEFRA’s announcement of plans for a badger cull in two pilot areas.
Cheshire dairy farmer Ian Garnett described the announcement as a “fair, right and proper way of tackling the reservoir of TB in wildlife”.
“This is a very positive move forward that will finally give dairy farmers an effective way of bringing TB under control in the areas most affected.
“The introduction of a pilot scheme is a very good idea and even though an announcement of a more definite cull programme was expected, this is a very significant sign from the government that it’s ready to get to grips with the TB issue in cattle,” said Mr Garnett, who milks 600 cows.
He hoped every effort would be made by the government to explain the need for the cull proposals to the general public.
“There’s a naivety among the public about the devastating implications of TB – and that must be addressed. More needs to be done to explain that culling sick badgers suffering from TB is beneficial to the health and welfare of these wildlife populations.”
The Bourne family, who milk 260 cows in south Cheshire, are in a TB hotspot. “We were expecting a clear culling plan, but providing the consultation gives the final approval for that to go ahead – it’s showing that every possible consideration is being given to the issue.
“There has been a huge amount of misinformation about badgers and TB in the eyes of the general public. I’d like to see the consultation agree to a vigorous campaign to present the true facts about the impact of TB on dairy farming and the 25,000 cows a year that are being slaughtered.
“Just as in the darkest days of foot and mouth, there needs to be more images of cows being shot as a result of TB to get the public to understand just how serious this is a and why a selective culling programme is so important,” said Hugo Bourne.
Commenting on the announcement, NFU Cumbria County chairman, Robert Craig, stressed that preventing the spread of TB was vital to all dairy farmers.
“Cumbria has been relatively free from bovine TB, but the recent outbreak in the Penrith area shows how it is as much an issue for Cumbria as it is for Devon and Cornwall,” said Mr Craig.
“Tackling the disease in areas where it has become established is vitally important to make sure that the disease doesn’t get a foot hold elsewhere.
“Unfortunately the science shows this won’t happen unless the reservoir of infection in wildlife is addressed,” said Mr Craig who milks 400 cows at Armathwaite, Carlisle.
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