NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “I would like to pay tribute to the cull companies and contractors in all three areas who worked extremely hard to ensure a difficult job was carried out as safely, effectively and humanely as possible. It is clear the lessons have been learned from the first two years of the pilot culls and these have helped ensure the success of this year’s operations.
“The desire to see culling carried out over a wider area of the country next year will be welcomed by farmers in areas where bovine TB is rife and where culling can play a vital role in disease control. We will continue to offer help, advice and support to farmers who want to apply for a cull licence in areas where the disease is endemic and that would benefit from culling.
“It is important that the whole of the 25-year TB eradication strategy is implemented in full as quickly as possible. The announcement that compulsory post movement testing for cattle moving into the low risk area from higher risk areas will be introduced next year will be welcomed by farmers in these areas who have been frustrated by the lack of progress on this issue.
“The news that the Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme, and other badger vaccination schemes in England, is to be suspended because of a shortage of the BCG vaccine is disappointing as we have always said badger vaccination has a role to play in stopping disease spread in the edge and low risk areas. However, we fully understand the reasons for this decision and hope the supply issue will be resolved as quickly as possible so this work can continue.
“Bovine TB remains a huge problem for beef and dairy farmers across large parts of the country. It is vital that we use every option available to us so we have the best chance of controlling and eradicating this devastating disease,” Mr Raymond said.