Farmers, vets wasting time over TB

27 April 2000

Farmers, vets ‘wasting time’ over TB

By Trevor Lawson

CONSERVATIONISTS have criticised the British Cattle Veterinary Association and the NFU for wasting time over the problem of TB in cattle.

The two organisations, which blame badgers for passing TB to cattle, have been trying to establish a sub-group within MAFFs TB Forum.

The forum was set up last year by the ministry in a bid to promote discussion of ways to solve the growing threat from TB in cattle.

NFU officials believe a new sub-group should discuss how more badgers could be killed outside the areas covered by the governments badger cull.

But Professor John Bourne, who heads the scientific group overseeing the culling trial, has fiercely opposed the proposals.

Killing badgers elsewhere would remove future areas for the experiment, which has not yet shown that killing badgers is the right way forward.

The National Federation of Badger Groups, the Wildlife Trusts, the RSPCA, English Nature and the Countryside Council for Wales, wont join the sub-group.

Three of the organisations recently met agriculture minister Baroness Hayman to reaffirm their decision.

Dr Elaine King from the National Federation of Badger Groups accused the NFU and British Cattle Veterinary Association of wanting to work in secret.

“They have refused to publish their paper on the subject, but take every opportunity to lobby for more badger culling,” she said.

She added: “Small family farmers in particular know their market demands healthy cattle products which are produced in sympathy with wildlife.

“Unfortunately for farmers, their representatives appear lack the foresight to pursue such solutions.

“We and our colleagues have proposed a wide range of alternative research options, but MAFF seems unwilling to pursue them.”

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