NFU slams idea of halting badger cull in areas hit by TB
By Shelley Wright
PROSPECTS of a five-year halt in badger culling in some areas where bovine TB is rife have been dismissed by the NFU as totally unacceptable.
In its formal response to the governments consultation on the Krebs report, the union said that the plan to restrict badger culling to limited trial areas in TB hot spots would put an unbearable emotional and financial burden on those farmers in other areas where the disease was an increasing problem.
The NFU accepted that trials were necessary to establish the most appropriate means of controlling bovine TB, although it pointed out that such work should have been done many years ago.
The union insisted that experimental areas must include the west Midlands. Badger culling there was halted by government last year, since when more than 50 new herd breakdowns have been confirmed.
And it warned government not to look to farmers to fund the trials. "Direct financial contributions by the farming industry to control a disease of national interest is not an option we can consider at present."
The NFU also reiterated its demand for an increase in compensation for TB reactors. It wants 125% of the current market value of affected cattle, compared with the 75% of average market price paid at the moment. Consequen-tial loss payments should also be considered.
"Farmers morale is very low at the moment. Their overriding wish is to see the back of bovine tuberculosis and they want the proposed strategy to work. Those who are excluded from the trial need a very firm incentive to wait patiently for its completion," the union stated.
The Country Landowners Association echoed the demand for increased compensation, but suggested the rate for reactors should rise to 150% for farms suffering repeated breakdowns.
It has also called for a doubling of the trial areas designated for the comparative badger control experiments.
"Increasing the sample size could reduce the time taken to get conclusive results. It would be a great benefit if it meant that farmers in affected areas would get results in three years in stead of five," said Alan Woods, CLA environment adviser.