Angry farmers want badgers culled

The decision not to cull badgers in England despite concerns they may be to blame for the spread of TB in cattle has upset farmers in Rutland.

Secretary of State, Hilary Benn, announced that licences to cull badgers would not be given as it could in time make the situation worse.

The National Farmers Union and farmers have spoken out against Mr Benn's decision, claiming that he has ignored his responsibility to the British farming industry.

NFU regional director, Richard Hezlet, who is based in Uppingham, said: "This is a disgraceful abdication of responsibility by Hilary Benn.

"Despite his promise to base his decision on the facts, he has ignored the scientific evidence of the ISG report, the recommendation of the EFRA select committee and that of Professor Sir David King, in reaching his conclusion. It is a total non decision.

"At a time when we have the Prime Minister telling the public not to waste food, it is astonishing the government is prepared to continue to preside over the needless waste of tens of thousands of productive cattle."

Although TB is not a problem in Rutand, farmers are still worried that it is getting closer each year. Malcolm Robinson who farms at Tixover said: "I like to see a few badgers about but they have no natural predators in this country so the numbers have really risen. There are too many now.

"There should be culling in areas where TB is a problem, like the West Country, to buffer it from coming here."

Andrew Brown who farms at Caldecott said: "This is typical of the government.

"They are more than happy to cull thousands of cattle which is costing the tax payer 80 - 90 million a year, but they are leaving badgers to suffer a slow and painful death.

"In order to beat TB they need to cull on both sides otherwise it will continue to get worse and it will wipe out the cattle industry in this country."

The government are now looking into investing 20million into researching a vaccine for TB, which the NFU has described as being a medium to long term answer, and does not deal with the problem immediately.

Mr Hezlet added: "That is a ludicrous suggestion when what Mr Benn is now proposing is merely an extension of a policy that has been completely ineffective in controlling the spread of TB."

Mr Brown said: "They should have had culling in the worst effected areas. The government has just swept it under the carpet in the hope that it will go away."

The NFU has said it would be legally challenging Mr Benn's decision through the courts.