The NFU and its members plan not to co-operate with DEFRA on pre-movement testing until the government announces a cull of badgers in areas affected by bovine tuberculosis, said NFU president Tim Bennett.
After an emotive discussion on the issue at a meeting of NFU Council on Tuesday (17 January) Mr Bennett said: “Our policy is one of non-co-operation until a wildlife cull is announced.”
The decision is reflective of the growing level of mistrust among farmers over DEFRA’s willingness to tackle all aspects of TB transmission.
In a similar move Farmers For Action chairman David Handley is to write to junior DEFRA minister Ben Bradshaw informing him that FFA members are not prepared to comply with routine testing or pre-movement testing requirements until a wildlife cull is announced.
He acknowledged that this would curtail animal movements, but said a clear message needed to be sent to government.
Many council members, especially those representing livestock producers in the south west, made known their sheer frustration with DEFRA’s delaying tactics at tackling the disease among wildlife.
“DEFRA needs to demonstrate real partnership on this,” said livestock board chairman Richard Haddock.
Referring to the added costs that pre-movement testing will impose on farmers he said the cattle industry, especially suckler herds, was already paying heavily for TB testing.
Vice president Meurig Raymond told Council that the union was now considering how best to challenge the introduction of tabular valuations which he described as being clearly unfair for pedigree producers.
“We are investigating possible legal redress on tabular valuations and are looking to see whether we can challenge pre-movement testing, but I can’t promise anything,” said Mr Raymond.
Although many members were threatening non-compliance with pre-movement testing, they may find that they will be unable to comply even if they were willing.
“The vet practices in the south west that we have spoken to are telling us that they don’t have the necessary resources to cope with pre-movement testing,” said Mr Raymond.