The government has taken on board many of the TB Eradication Group’s recommendations, providing a solid first step in tackling the disease.
Bill Harper, who sits on the TBEG and keeps beef cattle near North Tamerton, Cornwall, said DEFRA now had a sound plan to implement in the coming months and years.
“I’ve been so nervous about it; at least we now have some progress. We’re pleased because they’ve taken up our suggestion of using farms in big areas with solid boundaries and controlled shooting.”
Mr Harper said he was not concerned about the consultation on controlled shooting methods.
“It’s about proving that controlled shooting can provide safe and effective control – and I’m confident that it can, particularly when you take into account digital night sights.
“But I am worried about the pressure the trial will put on farmers in the pilot areas.”
Charging farmers for four years of control up front was another sticking point, he added. “It is an incredibly good offer by the industry to take on the costs; farmers will be paying quite a bit to get this done.”
Contractors were likely to spend two weeks mapping farms and four to six weeks a year actively culling. “I believe farmers should enter into the contractual agreement and then be permitted to pay annually.”
Extending the cull over 10 new areas each year was more than Mr Harper had expected.
But farmers now had to respond positively to the consultation, and write to local and national newspapers and their MPs to support the proposals.
“There will be a barrage of negative feeling from the antis, and we need to stand up for our industry.
“It is very sad that we can’t get together with the people who claim to represent the badgers, to agree a way forward without spending millions of pounds in court, but there’s nothing more we can do.”
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