28 August 1998

Badger study data letters now sent

CATTLE farmers who are likely to be involved in MAFFs badger and bovine tuberculosis study (News, Aug 21) should have received letters from the ministry outlining the planned experiments.

The trial will start this year in two areas: The Devon/Cornwall border and the Herefords, Worcs, Glos border.

The letter to people MAFF would like to include in the first wave is from Richard Compton, the national trial manager. The study, he says, is to determine, on a scientific basis, the impact badgers have on the spread of disease, and the conditions in which badger culling may be effective in controlling TB in cattle.

"I am, therefore, writing to let you know that a member of my staff will shortly make contact to arrange a suitable time when we can visit to explain in detail how the trial will operate and the reasons why the government believes this to be the best way forward," the letter says.

&#8226 New laws increasing the compensation for animals slaughtered because of TB came into effect on Wednesday. Producers will now receive 100% of an animals market value, with no payment ceiling, compared with the previous rate of 75% of the rolling market average. The increased compensation applies to all producers regardless of whether they are involved in MAFFs new badger control trials.