Even though the Government has said that it is “accelerating other elements” of its long-term strategy to tackle bovine TB (bTB), including vaccination and improved testing, in order to “start to phase out” badger culling in England, it has been dragging its feet over taking action.
I support the Badger Trust’s argument that the “science doesn’t support the culls” and that “cattle measures are the answer to solving the bTB problem” and that badgers are a distraction from the cattle-to-cattle transmission.
The key priorities now are to develop a cattle vaccine; phase out intensive badger culling; reduce the direct cow to cow transmission and to stop unsafe trade practices.
It cannot be a stretch to say that intensive factory farming practices are partly responsible for the spread of bTB. Where you have cows packed inside a barn, literally shoulder to shoulder in close proximity, it cannot be a surprise that any disease will spread quickly.
I am personally against such intensive farm practices, but where it is not possible to stop those practices, it is the responsibility of the farming industry to ensure that cow to cow transmission of bTB does not take place. One of the ways to do that is via a Bovine vaccine.
I was elected on a manifesto that committed to end the ineffective cull of badgers. Immunisation, combined with measures including investing in, and incentivising farmers to reduce the likelihood of cattle-to-cattle transmission should be the Government’s strategy.