Dropping cull would 'knock living daylights' out of farmers - NFU
The leader of Britain's biggest farming union has criticised Labour's pledge to halt badger culling, warning it would "knock the living daylights" out of the industry.
As reported in the WMN earlier this week, a Labour government has pledged to halt the expansion of culling to curb the spread of bovine TB.
The success of two pilot culls, ongoing in Somerset and Gloucestershire, will determine whether more shooting takes place in up to 40 areas – most likely in the South West.
Speaking at its fringe event at the Labour conference in Brighton alongside the party's frontbenchers, National Farmers' Union president Peter Kendall was dismissive of the party's plan to focus on vaccination instead.
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Mr Kendall told delegates: "What absolutely frustrates the hell out of me is you (Labour) don't even talk about the length of time on badger vaccination, you just talk about the money being put into it. I tell you what, that will just knock the living daylights out of dairy farmers."
He said farmers could see what was happening in the Republic of Ireland, where he claimed culling had contributed to a 50% drop in disease levels in cattle.
"Then we hear from Mary (Creagh, Labour Shadow Environment Secretary) that Labour won't be rolling out the 'disastrous badger cull'. Our farmer members will think: 'Well, what are you going to do other than argue about what money you are going to put into badger vaccination'."
He added: "Please, please come out with something more meaningful than looking at what is being spent on badger vaccines."
At the event, Shadow Farming Minister Huw Irranca-Davies said that even if the pilot culls achieved the predicted 16% benefit in reducing cattle bovine TB it would still "not be sufficient".
Mr Irranca-Davies said it will, instead, be spending more money to speed up the development of an oral badger vaccine, which he stated could help eradicate bTB in cattle within the 20-year timeframe laid out by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson in his TB eradication strategy, which includes culling. Mr Kendall told him farmers would be deeply frustrated at his party.
Reference: Farmers Guardian