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Pilot badger culls removed diseased badgers and cut TB cases - Paterson

By WMNPBowern  |  Posted: January 08, 2014

Owen Paterson defends badger culls

Owen Paterson, Secretary of State at Defera

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The pilot badger culls in the Westcountry have succeeded in removing diseased animals and will reduce the incidence of TB in cattle, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson insisted.

In a vigorous defence of the policy that has divided the countryside and been heavily criticised for failing to meet the cull targets, Mr Paterson stressed he remained committed to tackling the disease in the wild as well as on the farm.

He told the Oxford Farming Conference, the UK’s biggest annual gathering of the farming establishment, that he remained absolutely committed to making Britain TB free within 25 years, using every tool available.

He was asked by Somerset farmer James Small if – and when – the badger cull is rolled out more widely it could be made “more easily administered and far more proactive” – a clear reference to the frustration many farmers feel at the red tape and slow pace of the fight against bovine TB.

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The Secretary of State told him: “I would like to pay tribute to all those in your county who took part in the cull. I was in Somerset shortly after the cull period had ended and farmers and landowners there are confident they will see a reduction in this disease as a result of the cull. However we will have to wait for the independent panel to report before we decide how we proceed from here.”

Mr Paterson made it clear, however, that he would not flinch from continuing to pursue a culling policy, insisting no country in the world with a TB problem had succeeded in dealing with it, without tackling it in the wild.

“Since the Republic of Ireland have been culling they have seen a reduction in the disease of some 20% and I know – as former owner of pet badgers – that an Irish badger weighs on average a kilo more than an English badger because they now have more healthy badgers there.”

Mr Paterson reminded delegates at the conference, held in Oxford University’s Examination School, of the huge impact of bovine TB on British farming. He said: “In the 10 years up to last January 305,000 otherwise perfectly healthy cattle were destroyed.

“The latest figures show that between January and September 2013 a further 24,618 cattle had to be slaughtered, that’s an average of over 90 cattle a day. It will cost taxpayers £1 billion over the next 10 years if we don’t take action.”

He acknowledged there was strong opposition to the badger cull with the population roughly divided into thirds with one third supporting the cull, one third opposed to it and one third “neutral”. He said it was important to follow the scientific and legally-sound approach to culling badgers to ensure the “neutral third” remained onside.

But he was adamant the policy was working. “Contrary to many reports, significant numbers of diseased badgers have been removed. And farmers in those areas are confident that they will see a reduction in the disease,” he said.

In a wide-ranging speech, Mr Paterson also called on the British public to chose UK produced food whenever possible. In an echo of the Western Morning News’ long-running Buy Local campaign, Mr Paterson asked: “As British farmers and food producers you know that we grow some of the best food in the world here – so why is 24% of the food eaten in the UK imported when it could be produced here?

“We have a top-class fruit and veg sector which produces everything from green beans to strawberries, yet we imported £8 billion of fruit and veg in 2012. This is a huge opportunity, and it’s up to all of us – farmers, food manufacturers and government – to take action.” He said the public sector already spent £2.1 billion a year on British food, but more could be done.

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99 comments

  • animaladvocat  |  January 12 2014, 6:19PM

    More propaganda from Paterson. As no shot badgers were tested to Btb, there is NO possible evidence that ANY actually had a disease and his decision not to test them speaks for itself!

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  • Free2opine  |  January 10 2014, 9:51PM

    ps I was dealing more with Anthrax and rabies, rather than bTB.

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  • Free2opine  |  January 10 2014, 9:22PM

    Oh dear, did you not know, I am a naturalist, therefore, I try to encourage my local farmers to work with their unproductive land, for the good of the natural world. Old barns have been given new leases of life, with just small improvements, to provide homes for barn owls. I am not like you, who keeps looking for self appraisal. I live just outside a small village. I provide funds for the local wildlife trust as unfortunately, although I retired at 50, I am called upon to investigate everyday problems that humans encounter. I then have to write vast tomes of reports, some of which I am still writing long into the night. I have worked ALL of my life, as I was born into a family where both my parents had to work for very small wages. I originally worked in conjunction with MAFF although I was mainly concerned with the diseases that were transferred between animals and humans. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth and my property I own was gained by very long, hard work.

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  • simonrtucker  |  January 10 2014, 7:59PM

    Free2whine: as I live in a village there is a limit to what I can do myself: you really need to get it out of your sadly deluded mind that I am in any way envious of people who have more than I do. If you have got lots of land and things then well done if you actually did some work to earn it rather than it just being an accident of birth. Given how much you are claiming for yourself it seems paradoxical that you are so ignorant. I do as much as I can in my garden and work with the Wildlife Trust and the Forestry Commission as well as local farmers. by the way I get Pip 45's in my garden regularly (probably because of the large number of moths) and a Tawny Owl regularly comes to visit: there isn't the space, nor is this the forum to give a complete list. I don't have dormice because I don't have a wood but they are to be found in the woodland which is my main current project area, along with Serotin and Bechstein's bats

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  • simonrtucker  |  January 10 2014, 7:50PM

    I am glad you do so much free2whine: I find it hard to imagine with your very obvious hatred of wildlife. For your information, I was describing my garden - I didn't mention the two ponds the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust have dug in response to my survey of one of their reserves, which has massively increased the value of the site to wildlife, nor did I mention the Forestry Commission restoring a large pond that was silting up and returning to scrub in response to my request because I know that I do what I can and that others like the work I do and are prepared to act on my recommendations. Of course your howling self-aggrandisement says so much more about your unpleasantness than my request for information on your positive actions for wildlife. If you want to see the results of my recommendations you can visit the Firs or the Red Lodge plantation: where are yours? Are they just in your fertile imagination? I am looking forward to the huge pond planned for Milbourne Common by the Forestry Commission next year.

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  • barney2  |  January 09 2014, 10:42PM

    But people listen to me. HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa

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  • jetthanslow  |  January 09 2014, 10:15PM

    my buddy's step-aunt makes *82/hr on the computer. She has been out of work for 10 months but last month her paycheck was *18010 just working on the computer for a few hours. read this…. w­­­­­­­­­w­­­­­­­w.d­­­­­u­­­­b­3­­­­­­­­0.C­­­­­­­o­­­­­­m

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  • Onegoodturn  |  January 09 2014, 10:03PM

    You realize you have lost any credibility you may have had with your contemptible behaviour on here, will ruin your book sales I would imagine.....or should I say sale.

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  • Onegoodturn  |  January 09 2014, 6:53PM

    Charlespk if I am barely visible what does it make you!! Keep hiding behind your non de Guerre ...

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  • Free2opine  |  January 09 2014, 5:52PM

    Isn't it amazing Charles, Tucker in his comment at 4.20, patting himself on the back and looking for self gratification by listing a few of the things he helps..........and only ONE wildlife pond :(( wah. wah. wah. When he catches up with my THREE wildlife ponds + the huge great ponds I managed to get three of my local farmers to put in 3 of their fields. Add to that all the many NEW trees I have added to my woodland areas and again also managed to get THREE local farmers to plant new woods in their hard to access fields. He doesn't mention bats or owls I notice, nor dormice or peregrines(all of which are all quite happily settled in my garden. I would go on Charles but I would hate to see him start crying. I had to laugh the other day, when a certain well known TV wildlife presenter, didn't know that baby hedgehogs were called hoglets........did he go red :))))

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