A beef farmer claims he may be forced out of cattle farming after a pilot cull of badger to combat bovine tuberculosis in his area was postponed.
Gloucestershire farmer David Barton said it was “outrageous” that TB in cattle was not being tackled properly after the government announced that the pilot cull of badgers was being delayed until 2013.
On Tuesday (23 October) DEFRA secretary Owen Paterson announced to ministers that the NFU had written to him requesting that the culls be postponed until next summer.
The union’s request followed the release of new badger population survey results in the two pilot areas, west Somerset and west Gloucestershire, which revealed badger numbers were twice as high as anticipated.
In view of the new figures, the NFU said it could not be confident in culling at least 70% of badgers this autumn – the minimum requirement under the culling licence.
Mr Barton, who runs Manor Farm in Middle Duntisbourne, said 44 of his cattle have been slaughtered since February after they tested positive for TB.
“There’s no point in me restocking because of the level of infection in wildlife we have in and around the farm, so I’ll most likely have to give up farming cattle,” he told the BBC.
“Had the pilot culls gone ahead and been successful, and we could have seen that it could be rolled out, it would have given us some hope that we can get on top of this disease, but to leave it out there is an outrage.”
Mr Barton added that giving up cattle farming would leave him feeling “incredibly sad”.
Read the latest news on bovine TB and the badger cull