National Beef Association
For everyone with an interest in the British beef industry

Cull must go on, says NBA

4th April 2014

Region: National

Bill Harper Chair of the NBA Tb Committee is disappointed at the decision not to roll out the badger cull piloted last year. Bill sees the decision as entirely political and lays the blame “firmly with those members of the coalition without the commitment to persevere with the battle to combat TB in cattle and wildlife namely Nick Clegg and fellow Liberals”.

Mr Harper expressed his disappointment after the Government TB Free Strategy for England was published this week, along with the Independent Expert Panel report. Mr Harper was glad to see the report acknowledges culling badgers by controlled shooting can be safe with best practice followed, even with the presence of protestors.

However he stated “I am concerned that the IEP report does not truly reflect the picture reported to me by those involved in the cull but I do see that some of the recommendations could be used to improve the effectiveness of any future cull.”

NBA TB Committee Chair Bill Harper reiterated his support for and thanked those farmers who had been involved in the pilot culls to assess the use of shooting as a safe and humane manner for culling badgers. Mr Harper explained “the pilots were pilots, they were to test the methods used and enable improvements to how the cull would proceed,  we knew it wouldn’t be easy but to give up after the first stage is unforgivable.”

“TB remains a terrible devastating for cattle and cattle farmers, and its spread remains unhalted with all areas of the country at risk. Statistics released by Defra show there were 4,815 new herds infected with TB in 2013 in Great Britain, with 90 cattle a day slaughtered in an attempt to control the disease. Testing alone has shown itself not to be the answer, if it was we would not have seen the extent of the spread we have seen. It is crucial that cattle movement controls happen in partnership with measures to tackle the disease in wildlife.”

Mr Harper advocates using a system of “reactive culls where there is an outbreak, a model used effectively to control the disease in Ireland. The development of a reactive culling policy needs to be investigated with moves started to lift any legal barriers.”

Mr Harper expressed his disappointment that stakeholders have not been kept fully abreast of proposals and will be seeking urgent talks with Defra.

Finally Mr Harper sees that farmers need to work together to improve their parish biosecurity with a coordinated and whole parish approach.