Frustration as cattle lost to bovine TB climbs to 40,000

NFU president Peter Kendall spoke of his fury at a union council meeting (24 June) as new bovine tuberculosis figures showed the cattle cull will break 40,000 by the end of the year.

Speaking to Farmers Weekly at the NFU council meeting on Tuesday, Mr Kendall said that DEFRA’s plan for animal disease cost and responsibility sharing would be untenable if the department did not implement a substantial badger cull to control bovine TB.

It was now vital that DEFRA made the right decision not just for the sake of the livelihood of farming families, but also to ensure the production of much needed food.

Widespread anger

“TB is affecting some of Europe’s best beef and dairy regions, threatening production which is already in decline,” he said.

After the meeting Mr Kendall added: “There is widespread anger, frustration and despair among farmers at the unacceptable and rapidly rising incidence of TB in cattle, while absolutely nothing is done to address the spread of infection in badgers.

“Last year 28,000 cattle were killed at vast cost to the government, taxpayers and farmers. In the first four months of this year alone, 13,500 more have been culled. At this rate the 2007 figure has the potential to have doubled by 2010.

“Reflecting this, NFU Council unanimously repeated its appeal for government to follow science and numerous reports that recommend action against infected wildlife as well as cattle if TB has any chance of being controlled.

“This is a criminal waste of good livestock. Failure to act now questions the government’s real attitude to animal welfare and it just cannot continue,” he said.