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