Farmers have been urged to begin their fightback against the government’s decision against a badger cull as a method of controlling bovine tuberculosis.

NFU Peter Kendall called for the farming industry to join together to give a “resounding message” over the decision by DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn.

“[Mr Benn’s announcement] was a tragedy for farming families,” Mr Kendall said.

“We must now start the fightback. We will work together as a united industry to make a difference.”

 

 

Mr Kendall’s comments came at an NFU protest held outside DEFRA offices and parliament in London on Tuesday (8 July).

Industry representatives and MPs were joined by 28 farming families, who represented the 28,000 cattle which were slaughtered last year as a result of bovine TB.

To applause and cheers from the amassed farmers, Mr Kendall said the NFU would “leave no stone unturned” in changing the government decision.

He pledged to launch a legal challenge over the result and said he would be in Brussels next week to call for help from the European Commission.

The NFU would also withdraw from aiding government in its consultation on cost sharing and responsibility, he added.

 

 

Mr Kendall said DEFRA’s proposal for an industry group to look at ways of controlling the disease was “unbelievable”.

“Mr Benn fixed the group’s agenda and its terms. We don’t call that a partnership.

“We want an independent animal health body, free from politics.”

Meurig Raymond, NFU deputy president, said it was vital the policy was changed to give farming families “some hope for the future”.

He said farmers needed to lobby their MPs to push for legislative change.

Julia Evans, who farms 100 pedigree beef shorthorn cattle on her 180 acre organic farm in Herefordshire, said she had been left struggling with the disease for the past three years.

“My ambitions for my business have been thwarted by government inaction in dealing with badgers,” she said.

“This has had a huge effect on my livelihood, my family and my health. The situation is hopeless.”