Compulsory cull of badgers demanded to beat TB – FUW
DEMANDS for the compulsory slaughter of badgers on farms where bovine tuberculosis has been confirmed, with the option of extending the cull if neighbouring farmers wish, have been made by Farmers Union of Wales president Bob Parry.
Speaking on a farm visit to Monmouthshire, Mr Parry claimed that 25% of badgers tested carried TB, and added that more money should be invested in eradicating the disease from both cattle herds and badgers.
"Farmers are not anti-badger. But we believe resources have to be provided for a tuberculosis control proper strategy to be implemented immediately. The protected status of badgers prevents farmer control, so full and direct compensation must be available to those farmers who suffer losses due to their activities."
Monmouthshire farmer Howard Stone said he was very worried about the spread of bovine tuberculosis in the county. Visitors to an FUW open day at Church Farm, Newchurch, heard that the 60 cases confirmed in 1996, 21 more than the year before, brought the killer disease far too close to his suckler herd for comfort. As the link with the proliferating badger population was undeniable, action must be swiftly taken.
Mr Stone said he was also concerned about the ending of extra payments to suckler herds hit by the BSE crisis. In his case, market returns were currently 40p/kg liveweight lower than two years ago, and it appeared total support payments would be the equivalent of £90 a cow down. Total ewe premium would also be £4200 less.
"I am very disappointed that there will not be a proper HLCA review this year because making a living in the LFA is getting harder every year," he claimed.
"To try to continue in beef we plan to include 16ha (40 acres) of maize in our forage area, which will change stocking rate and make the sucklers eligible for extensification payments."
He told his visitors that quality would be the key to future beef sales, and criticised surplus calves from dairy herds. To prove the point he showed off 25 beef cross calves he bought last autumn, which had grown very slowly and had very poor conformation.
"I believe it is time to ban the use of beef bulls on Holstein milkers. At 10 days old it is impossible to know a calfs breeding and what appears to be a good buy too often turns out to be difficult to finish, and will not get a quality premium."n
Double trouble – Monmouthshire farmer Howard Stone faces the threat of bovine tuberculosis and lower beef returns.