MINISTER of state for food and farming, David Heath MP, has reiterated the government's commitment to controlling bovine TB by introducing pilot badger culls in 2013.
The Somerton and Frome MP made the pledge at the annual open meeting of Somerset NFU on Monday evening.
"I promise you it is our very clear intention to do these trials next summer," he said.
The minister said that vaccination for either badgers or cattle was not a viable option for controlling bovine TB, and is illegal in the case of the latter.
Mr Heath, who said he did not have all the answers and had to listen to those who were doing the farming, added that although there were a lot of threats and difficulties facing farmers, overall he was optimistic for their future.
He also said the country needed a "food strategy" and that if people couldn't be fed, the government was failing.
"I haven't got a magic wand, and all I can do is my best as your minister," he said.