NFU 2010: Farmers stage protest over government’s TB stance

West Country farmers have used the NFU conference to stage a protest against the government’s policy on bovine tuberculosis.

One hundred delegates from the south west wore black armbands and gave DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn a slow hand-clap as he took the stage.

A theme of Mr Benn’s speech was that he had listened and made changes as a consequence which added to the protesters’ fury.

“Listen and act is precisely what Mr Benn has not done,” said Holsworthy area NFU chairman Philip Allin.

“Mr Benn said he would act on science over the badger cull. But he has ignored the facts that culling cuts the level of TB,” Mr Allin said. 

“We have told him many times we have the wherewithal to carry out and sustain a cull against hard boundaries as required by the science in the culling trial conclusion.

“But he won’t take the decision,” he said.

Mr Benn’s inaction has left the West Country farmer hoping for a change in government.

“We are ready and waiting for the next government to take the bold but sensible step of organising a carefully managed and persistent cull.

“I’m left hoping that the next government will not be a Labour government,” Mr Allin said.

Gloucestershire farmer John Hore, who helped to organise the protest, told Farmers Weekly that 150,000 cattle had been culled in a bid to control the disease since the government had come to power.

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