Former farm minister backs badger cull

Former farming minister Jane Kennedy is considering taking DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn to task over his anti-badger cull stance in the battle to eradicate bovine TB.

Ms Kennedy, who lost her job as junior DEFRA minister last week after refusing to back the Prime Minister, said a badger cull may be part of the solution to tackle the disease.

Speaking at the North Yorkshire Show on Sunday (14 June), Ms Kennedy said she was concerned bovine TB was damaging an already weakened dairy industry.

A dairy industry plan of action was needed to tackle the disease, she told the Yorkshire Post.

Ms Kennedy said she was exploring the possibility of ‘exceptional circumstances’ in Mr Benn’s policy as she believed many farmers, particularly in the West Country and South Wales, were already in that position.

“I always found it hard to explain why we were culling cattle with such severity but not moving against wildlife,” she said.

She also backed welsh farm minister Elin Jones for keeping an open mind about badger culling, despite facing public backlash over the decision.

Nick Herbert, shadow DEFRA secretary, said farmers would welcome Ms Kennedy’s ‘sensible comments’ on the need for more effective action against TB.

“It’s a pity that she was unable to express these views when she was in office,” he added.

“With the Welsh Government, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats and now the former minister all backing a cull, it’s clear that Hilary Benn’s weakness in avoiding the necessary action is leaving him increasingly isolated.”