Call for NFU president to be sacked
The blame game over who is responsible for alleged shortcomings in the pilot cull of badgers erupted yesterday as a leading Conservative adviser on the countryside called for National Farmers Union president Peter Kendall to be sacked.
Richard Haddock, a former NFU office holder and now national chairman of the Conservative Rural Action Group, alleged Mr Kendall ignored the advice he was given when the culling plans were being drawn up and eventually backed a flawed strategy.
"We warned Peter Kendall three years ago that it was totally impracticable to shoot badgers in the late summer because there would be too much vegetation cover and that it would take 12 weeks, rather than six, to do the job effectively," he said.
"But as usual Peter Kendall thought he knew best and announced that the cull as proposed was the only option on the table and we just had to go along with it."
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NFU spokesman in the South West Ian Johnson rejected the claim. "This is ludicrous and actually totally irrelevant," he said.
"Firstly, it's not true that the cull had been a failure, in fact in terms of methodology it's proved quite acceptable. Secondly, it's the farming community as a whole responsible for the cull, not a single individual.
"Richard Haddock makes controversial and sometimes cogent comments, but on this occasion he doesn't seem to be on the same planet as the rest of us."
Colin Rowland, NFU chairman for Devon also defended the cull and Peter Kendall's role. "Who is going to take a campaign forward if not the NFU? We desperately need all the tools in the box to help sort out this dreadful disease, and at least we've had something – better than anything we've had for the past 25 years," he said.
Mr Haddock was a former chairman of the national livestock sector committee of the NFU and subsequently South West regional chairman. He is no longer an office holder but advises the Tories on rural issues.