Labour has reiterated its commitment to ending the badger cull if it came to power, despite evidence which shows the Government’s 25-year strategy is working.
Shadow Defra Secretary Sue Hayman told Farmers Guardian the party’s new manifesto launch would exclude a badger cull from England because the group thought the spread of bTB could be controlled ‘through different and humane methods’.
It was despite evidence from independent reviews, such as The Lucy Brunton report, which showed the badger cull was effective in bringing down the herd incidence rates of bTB in Gloucestershire and Somerset.
Ms Hayman said the party was instead looking at ‘all sorts of things’ and was hoping to produce a national standalone policy.
She said: “I think what we really think is there are lots of reasons behind our high problem with TB and we need to be looking at that.
“We also want to look at risk-based trading because we have been looking at how they are doing it in Australia. Over there, cattle are only imported from the same or higher [health] status in order to protect stock.”
Other recommendations by the party included enhanced on-farm biosecurity, pre- and post-movement testing, and a look at how vaccination could be used as an additional tool in cattle.
Farmers speaking to Farmers Guardian said they were angry at Labour’s stance, with one calling it a ‘blatant disregard of peer-reviewed science’.
The publication of the Charles Godfray review last year said culling had to be a part of any bTB eradication strategy, as well as a suite of other measures, such as enhanced biosecurity and vaccination.
But Ms Hayman said the group did ‘not believe we should be killing badgers’.
She added: “But we do recognise how important the impact is. What we would like to do is produce a standalone policy on this and host a workshop which will bring together stakeholders from across the industry to see if we can look at having a national strategy.”
According to the Wildlife Trust, 10 new areas could be given the green light for badger culling as part of an extended operation this autumn.