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Farmers fear more bovine TB misery amid badger cull delay chaos

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 24, 2012

Save the Badgers

Badger cull protesters demonstrating outside the Houses of Parliament

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Dairy farmers last night resigned themselves to more costly bovine TB misery as the Government’s trial badger cull policy unravelled.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson insisted the controversial cull will still go ahead in the West next summer – but the force of protests against it must raise doubt about it ever happening.

Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger, in an interview with the Western Daily Press, described his own Government’s decision as ‘pathetic’.

But campaigners opposed to the trial cull were delighted at the postponement, which they hope is the first step towards stopping the policy completely.

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After days of Government confusion and dithering, Mr Paterson was forced to admit to Parliament that the scheme will not take place in Gloucestershire and Somerset this year.

West farmers reacted with some anger to the news, but the mood was largely one of resignation.

Andrew Cozens, who farms in Eastington, Gloucestershire, said: “It’s not the news I wanted to hear.

“I’m disappointed that having got the impetus up and ready to go forward the brakes have been put on.”

David Barton, a beef farmer who farms near Cirencester, lost 34 cattle from a herd of 147 to TB last week.

Last night he said: “The decision to postpone the cull is obviously disappointing, but it is being delayed rather than cancelled.”

National Farmers’ Union Somerset branch chairman James Small, who farms on Mendip, said he and fellow members were surprised by the revised official figures for badger numbers in West Somerset which arrived last weekend and which were 60 per cent above the previous figure.

Of the decision to delay he said: “We would almost certainly not have been able to meet the conditions of the cull licence now for a number of reasons, including the wet weather. It would be better to wait until next year.”

Mr Paterson also claimed this summer’s “exceptionally bad weather” had put pressure on farmers and caused significant problems.

“Protracted legal proceedings and the request of the police to delay the start until after the Olympics and Paralympics, have also meant that we have moved beyond the optimal time for delivering an effective cull.”

He told the Commons the National Farmers’ Union had written to ask him to postpone the cull.

As the Daily Press reported last week, the Government has just discovered that badger numbers are much higher than had been thought in the two pilot cull zones, especially Somerset. Because at least 70 per cent of the animals must be killed, the farmers delivering the policy could not be confident of removing enough badgers, given the lateness of the season.

Mr Paterson said: “I must emphasise that there is no change to the Government’s policy. We remain absolutely committed to it, but we must ensure that we work with the NFU to get the delivery right."

He declined to reveal how much taxpayers’ money has been spent on the delayed cull, but pledged Gloucestershire and Avon & Somerset police would not be left out of pocket.

Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh accused him of another U-turn, and said he had been “yanked back” from a trip to Paris to promote British food by the Prime Minister “who told him it was game over” for the cull.

NFU President Peter Kendall said the news would be a devastating blow to farmers desperate for a solution to the crisis,

North Wiltshire Tory MP James Gray said farmers across the country would be disappointed by the delay, but would understand it.

But Mark Jones of Humane Society International said: “We have a vital time window to turn this temporary reprieve into a permanent policy but for now at least the badgers are safe.”

Queen guitarist Brian May, who has been campaigning against the cull, said: “Killing badgers will not solve the farmers’ problems, not now, not in the spring, not ever.”

Scientist Lord Krebs, who first instigated the culling trial, urged Ministers to “rethink the Government’s strategy altogether, starting from square one”.

He warned culling would make the problem worse in the short-term, and have only a limited effect after that.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 24 2012, 7:55PM

    Don't be rude to people and particularly not me if you want a civil reply. It doesn't suit you. . I have been an employer for most of my working life. You have to pay staff the going rate. Many small business employers pay their staff before paying themselves. And I DIDN'T SAY ALL FARMERS.

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  • nickthompson  |  October 24 2012, 7:47PM

    "Farmers pay their labourers more than the minimum wage even if they don't draw it themselves" You said it Charles, your statement clearly implies that all farmers do not drawer even the minimum wage, I always respect (but not necessarily agree) with your points of view, but please refrain from treating other's as if they are b----y fools.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  October 24 2012, 7:40PM

    @Nick Thompson All farmers are NOT rich. Some of them have to sub-contract to keep their own farm going. The range rover/4x4s have been bought second or third hand. They go without and what money they make (if they do so) they invest back into buying stock and food for the animals. They work all hours of the day and night for very little but they are happy doing it. Another thing they don't go cap in hand to the benefits office either, they are too proud.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 24 2012, 7:39PM

    "My farming friends." Oh Please. . Farming is now a mugs game unless you have massive acreage. You can't spend your assets, only borrow against them and increase debt. I don't make money out of farming. . My lifestyle comes from a lifetime of hard work spent in commerce subsidising any of my lifestyle farming enterprises. . Farming was screwed by the Conservatives and Labour after the 1970's. If you see a prosperous farmer he'll be a grafter trying to make sure ther's still a farm to hand onto the next generation. Why do you think so many farmers' sons just don't want to know anymore?

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  • Charlespk  |  October 24 2012, 7:28PM

    You do talk some rubbish. . There are rich an poor in all walks of life. Only a fool believers all farmers have Range Rovers. That's blind left-wing bigotry.

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  • eyeopener  |  October 24 2012, 7:26PM

    This mantra about farmers committing suicide is completely misleading. Yes farmers commit suicide, but so do members of the rest of the population. Farmer suicide is documented in places as diverse as Canada, Brazil and India. Farmer suicide is a sufficiently well recognised phenomenon to form the basis of a number of psychological studies, amongst them a study by the Oxford University Centre for Suicide Research. http://tinyurl.com/2vbnz7 There is of course no evidence of badgers infecting cattle in Canada, Brazil or India.

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  • nickthompson  |  October 24 2012, 7:24PM

    Charles if as you say your farming friends do not draw the minimum wage,where are the Range Rover's,and new cars coming from,not stolen I hope?

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  • nickthompson  |  October 24 2012, 7:21PM

    Charlespk " You haven't been born Nick Thompson. Join the REAL WORLD of the small farmer------------------Oh I am in the real world Charles, working 80+ hours a week so that I pay plenty (like all the rest of us tax payer's) into the farmer's handout pot.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 24 2012, 7:13PM

    Farmers pay their labourers more than the minimum wage even if they don't draw it themselves. Why do you think so many do extra jobs? All farmers are not rich! . And most have got huge debts that they struggle to pay the interest on.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 24 2012, 7:09PM

    A neighbour of mine is coming up to 80 and still slaving away to keep food on the table. And you keep voting in Labour governments who have continually kept shirkers in the style they've become accustomed to, without ever doing a day's work!!

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