Farm­ers in plea for cull on bad­gers


MAC­CLES­FIELD’S bad­ger pop­u­la­tion could be at risk if calls for a cull are sup­ported.

Farm­ers have backed the con­tro­ver­sial call for a bad­ger cull in Cheshire to stop the spread of Bovine TB, which is in­fect­ing cat­tle and crip­pling their busi­nesses.

The dis­ease, which is thought to be spread by bad­gers, has a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on farm­ing be­cause once it’s de­tected, farm­ers are sub­ject to strict rules which mean they can­not move or sell their cat­tle.

Nat­u­ral Eng­land, a pub­lic body re­spon­si­ble for the en­vi­ron­ment, has re­ceived the ‘ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est’ sup­port­ing culls in Cheshire from 29 ap­pli­ca­tions across the coun­try, but has not dis­closed ex­act lo­ca­tions for culling.

Mac­cles­field farm­ers have backed the call for a cull, say­ing the prob­lem is as bad in Mac­cles­field as in tra­di­tion­ally high-risk ar­eas in the south west.

Colin Pick­ford, 57, a farmer in Rainow, lost some of his cat­tle to Bovine TB last year and was banned from sell­ing the re­main­ing herd due to con­tam­i­na­tion. He now plans to get rid of the en­tire herd to avoid any fur­ther fi­nan­cial loss.

He said: “It’s dev­as­tat­ing. I had to go 15 months with­out a penny of in­come from the cows. Five out of the six farms in Rainow have been af­fected. Five years ago we didn’t have the dis­ease here at all but now it’s all over Mac­cles­field. It’s sad but the bad­ger cull is badly needed.”

Mr Pick­ford was among six farm­ers and farm­ing union rep­re­sen­ta­tives who met Ge­orge Eus­tice MP, min­is­ter at the depart­ment for en­vi­ron­ment, food and ru­ral affairs (DEFRA) along­side Mac­cles­field MP David Rut­ley.

He made a heart­felt state­ment to Mr Eus­tice about the prob­lems Bovine TB is caus­ing and the low val­u­a­tions placed on his cat­tle in a govern­ment scheme to com­pen­sate farm­ers for an­i­mals lost to the dis­ease.

The group asked Mr Eus­tice for bet­ter com­pen­sa­tion for farm­ers and to sup­port a na­tional roll­out of a Bovine TB ad­vi­sory ser­vice for farm­ers.

Also at the meet­ing was Mike Gor­ton, who told Mr Eus­tice about the pres­sures of Bovine TB com­bined with low dairy prices. Mr Gor­ton has sold his dairy herd in Over Alder­ley be­cause he was re­ceiv­ing just 15 pence per litre for milk. He is rear­ing 100 beef cows for an­other farmer but says the an­i­mals are now un­der move­ment re­stric­tion rules af­ter Bovine TB was de­tected. Mr Gor­ton said: “We’re liv­ing with a Bovine TB night­mare. Many farm­ers are plagued by the dis­ease. A bad­ger cull may be the last re­sort.”

Nat­u­ral Eng­land is hold­ing a con­sul­ta­tion into the ap­pli­ca­tions. To com­ment go to www. sma r t s u r v e y . c o. u k / s/5K77G/ be­fore March 16.

●● The six Cheshire farm­ers with MPs Ge­orge Eus­tice and David Rut­ley

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