We cannot underestimate the significance of this week’s announcement on bovine TB. It is an enormous step in the right direction but it is just the start. There is so much more that we as farmers need to do.
Anyone who has seen the press coverage on this issue cannot have failed to notice that there are a lot of people who do not support this policy of badger controls.
Some will never change their minds, whatever we say or whatever evidence is put in front of them.
However, there are still a lot of people who do not understand the impact TB has on farmers and their cattle. There are even more people who are fixated with the initial Randomised Badger Control Trial report who are failing to acknowledge the follow-up peer-reviewed scientific papers that clearly demonstrate that the science agrees a culling strategy will help to reduce TB in cattle and backs up the announcement made by the secretary of state.
It is incumbent on all of us to talk to MPs and other influential people, not only about how this will work and why, but stress that the current policy is clearly not working. We need to stop the spread of bovine TB and the devastating impact that it is having on cattle farmers and their families.
During the coming weeks and months we need to look very closely at the consultation on the draft guidance to Natural England.
We recognise there has to be controls on this policy, but those controls must be proportionate and practical. We cannot allow this process to be frustrated with a bureaucratic quagmire of rule and regulations.
We also need to think about the pilot areas. With so much attention on this policy, in particular on the issue of controlled shooting, we need to ensure that we can demonstrate that we can deliver an effective, humane and safe control policy with controlled shooting and that the monitoring and evaluation exercises will support our policy.
We need the support of farmers, landowners, vets and industry colleagues if we are to make this proposal an absolute reality.
Farmers Weekly has set up a dedicated channel for all stories connected to proposals for a badger cull.
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