Labour has made ending the pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire one of its six key pledges on animal welfare, which were announced today (Wed).
Meurig Raymond, NFU President, said: “Labour claims no other political party has such a proven track record of decisive action for animals on farm. If this is a pledge to protect animals, as Labour says, it must protect all animals, including the tens of thousands of cattle that are compulsorily slaughtered every year in England because of bTB.
“We do not consider it good animal welfare to allow a disease that is devastating farming family businesses, and for which there is no cure, to be left to spread unchecked in wildlife and create more misery.
“To stop the culls halfway through goes against the evidence from previous research which showed that culling over four years had a positive impact on reducing bTB in cattle. The culls were designed to run for four years and anecdotal evidence from both cull areas suggests they are already helping to reduce bTB incidence in cattle and farms are starting to go clear of the disease. Stopping the culls early could risk making the bTB situation in these areas worse. The culls must be allowed to run for their full four years so the maximum disease control benefits can be achieved."
“We have repeatedly said that the fight against bTB is too important to be allowed to become a political football. Eradicating this disease has to be put beyond party political point scoring and populist policies designed to win votes. It is simply too serious an issue. Whoever is in government will be required to deal with bTB and will need to have a robust, credible eradication strategy to do so.”
“We urge Labour to support the TB eradication strategy published by the Government last April which is the first comprehensive plan to control and eradicate this disease in England. It aims to tackle bTB using every option we have – cattle controls, vaccination of badgers around the endemic areas to stop it spreading further, and culling badgers in areas where the disease is rife.
“Only by doing everything we can to tackle this disease will we stand a chance of wiping it out and achieving what everybody wants – a TB free England where we have healthy cattle, healthy badgers and a healthy countryside.”