The National Beef Association welcomes the announcement of two pilot badger cull areas being invited to apply for Natural England licences.
After a long campaign for licenced badger culling as part of the fight against TB in cattle, the NBA sees the announcement by the Government as a major step in the right direction, and looks forward to it paving the way for 10 additional cull areas in England in 2013.
The NBA congratulates Caroline Spelman, Jim Paice and Defra on their commitment to a badger cull in England and for working with the industry, firstly inviting the NBA and NFU to present a shortlist of potential pilot areas and then taking the lead on deciding which two areas should be invited to apply to Natural England for a licence.
It feels a strong working relationship is developing between the cattle sector, Defra and Natural England, and is also delighted in the way Natural England is now stepping up to the challenge and appreciating the importance of confidentiality in dealing with the pilot areas and the farmers within them.
The NBA has fought tirelessly for confidentiality – ensuring the exact location of the pilot areas are not released as public information and that farmers signing up to the cull are not identified, so they and their families do not have to live in fear of the kind of intimidation and vandalism conducted by misinformed campaigners during previous badger cull trials.
Bill Harper, NBA TB Committee Chairman, says: “Today is a major breakthrough on what will be a long journey. We are still a long way off a badger cull taking place, but the attitude of all involved in very encouraging and we remain positive that licences will be granted and everything put in place for the two pilot areas to surge into action this autumn.
“We are confident the two pilot areas will achieve their objective – to prove that free shooting is a safe, humane and effective way to cull badgers – and then the gate will be open for 10 pilot areas to be licenced in 2013 and every year after that.
“Many farmer groups worked incredibly hard to get on the shortlist to be invited to apply for a licence, and today’s announcement will be a disappointment for them. But if the industry works together and supports the two pilot areas, then those who are disappointed today will be get opportunity next year, and in time we will begin to see an improvement in the horrendous effect TB is currently having on our industry.
“Badger culling is not the silver bullet to wipe out TB, and farmers in the pilot areas will not see an immediate drop in TB reactors, but we are certain controlling badger populations at the same time as adhering to strict cattle control measures is the best way forward. We just hope Wales and Northern Ireland watch the situation closely and offer their farmers the same opportunity.”
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