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NFU attacks government over Bovine TB

01 Jan 2010 - BBC News

Farmers have accused ministers of doing nothing to stop tens of thousands of cattle being slaughtered every year because of bovine TB. The NFU said government policy for dealing with the disease was "unacceptable". Farmers want a cull of badgers, which they say spread the disease to cattle.

Defra said the government was determined to make progress in the eradication of bovine TB, and the Welsh Assembly has approved a limited cull. But in England, Defra has opted to trap and vaccinate badgers in areas with a high incidence of TB.

NFU president Peter Kendall said unless the disease was tackled in the wildlife population, it would never be eradicated. In a message to mark the new year, Kendall asked how the government could "stand by and do nothing" while up to 40,000 cattle were slaughtered every year because of Bovine TB. "What a waste; of productive animals, of farmers' investment in their businesses, of taxpayers' money," he said. "We live with the silent spread of an infection which wreaks havoc in cattle and wildlife alike and causes untold stress to the farming families whose herds are affected."

Mr Kendall said no-one was claiming it would be a quick and easy battle. "Experience here and abroad demonstrates that it will take many years of strict measures, substantial investment and sustained action to get to where we need to be," he said. "Farmers are prepared to play their part. Let 2010 be the year that government plays its part and puts a genuine eradication plan in place."

A Defra spokesman said: "Badgers are a factor, which is why Defra has begun a project to trap and vaccinate badgers in six areas in England which have a high incidence of bovine TB in cattle."

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