Monday, 2 September 2019

Campaign response: Please end the badger cull

Thank you to constituents who have recently emailed me in regards to the government’s policy on badger culling.

The Government’s strategy on dealing with TB is delivering results.

According to reports in 2018, reductions in new outbreaks of bovine TB have been recorded in Gloucestershire and Somerset following the completion of their licensed four-year badger culls. In the Gloucestershire cull area, TB incidence has fallen from 10.4% before culling started in 2013 to 5.6% in year four of the cull (2016). While in Somerset it has reduced from 24% to 12% over the same period.

TB in cattle is costing our local farming community hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. It is also a cause of significant stress and anxiety for farmers waiting for the regular tests and watching animals they have raised be destroyed. In fact this week I spent a day on a dairy farm and heard first hand the devastating impact that TB has on farmers.

In my discussions with local vets, scientists and DEFRA officials who all give me the same message.

I take on board the views of concerned constituents – I do not wish to see our badger population needlessly destroyed. But this is a choice between destroying a proportion of the badger population or continuing to see thousands of cattle needlessly destroyed every year with the knock on economic cost to our local agricultural community and economy. This issue is not just about the welfare of wild animals. It is also about the welfare of our farming community.

DEFRA has already welcomed the publication of the Godfray report and is actively considering its recommendations before publishing a response:

“We welcome this review of the Government’s 25-year Bovine TB strategy and I extend my thanks to Sir Charles Godfray and his team for their hard work in producing the report.

As a Government we are committed to eradicating bTB and have always been clear that there is no single measure for tackling it. That’s why we have pursued a range of interventions, including cattle movement controls, vaccinations and controlled culling in certain areas. I support the governments approach to this issue including the use of culling where appropriate.

Sir Charles’ report is an important contribution that will inform next steps in the strategy to achieve officially TB free status for England by 2038.”