DEFRA has decided against a cull of badgers in England to control TB in cattle.

Environment secretary, Hilary Benn, has revealed that £20million will be invested over the next three years in developing cattle and badger vaccines.

Mr Benn said the decision was based on a wide range of evidence, including discussions with farming, veterinary, wildlife and conservation groups, the conclusions of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG), and the EFRA select committee report.

The government’s decision goes against former chief scientific adviser Sir David King’s recommendations, made in 2007, that a cull could be an effective measure to control bovine TB.

The decision has prompted outrage from the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), which claims bovine TB has already cost the farming industry millions.

NFU president, Peter Kendall, commented that DEFRA had ducked the issue, prompting protests in Westminster this week: “This is wiping out big chunks of UK farming and is ruining farming families and the rural economy. We need to take tough decisions. It’s never popular, but the farming industry will be devastated.”

Hilary Benn announced the decision in an oral statement to the House of Commons. The statement can be accessed at www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/ministers/statements/default.asp.

The rest of this article appears in 3 July issue of Shooting Times.

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