18 August 1997
Farmers demand emergency badger cull
A RISING tide of tuberculosis (TB) sweeping through beef and dairy cattle in England and Wales prompted farmers to call for an emergency slaughter of badgers. But wildlife experts say badgers are being used as scapegoats.
The Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF) will publish figures next month which show the disease has spread into new areas and that TB in herds has risen dramatically.
Cases in Shropshire and Hereford and Worcester have doubled to more than 100. This has led MAFF to warn farmers not to drink unpasteurised milk. Many farmers face TB movement restrictions, causing them to suffer heavy losses. They cannot sell cattle for breeding and they cannot buy replacements until their farms are declared disease-free.
Farmers are annoyed that a government report on badgers and bovine TB on farms has been delayed until November.
Most farmers are reluctant to speak out publicly because of fears of reprisals from animal rights activists. They are also keen not to blight the reputation of their herds and damage the value of their healthy livestock.