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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Farming Matters

THE decision to delay the two badger cull pilots until next year was an exceptionally difficult one for the NFU to make but on balance is responsible and right.

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Andrew Pye

There have been a series of obstacles, not least the appalling weather. There have been delays because of the Olympics and Paralympics and there were legal challenges from those against the policy.

And let’s be clear, the figures from the badger population survey last week, which demonstrated just how large the badger numbers are, have left us with a huge challenge to ensure we achieve the targets needed for disease control.

Obviously there will now be the inevitable gloating from the animal rights activists who have suggested that this cull is irresponsible.

We have always said that this has to be a science-led policy to reduce disease and we have to be confident of achieving the numbers needed for disease reduction.

As we rapidly approach winter, the odds of achieving that number decrease. This is why, reluctantly, we have taken the decision, along with the companies involved, to delay the cull until late spring.

Postponement is the most responsible thing to do. We have said all along that this has never been about killing badgers – this has always been about eradicating disease.

It has been about the battle to get on top of the TB on our farms that strikes at the very heart of our beef and dairy herds.

This has been a very tough year for farmers, which has lent its own set of challenges.

In preparing to deliver on this government’s TB eradication policy we have met with new challenges.

The NFU is proud of the way that farmers have worked together and shown great resilience in the face of noti nconsiderable opposition – and for that we want to thank them.

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