NFU story 3. Another classic example of a bad news and divisive issue affecting people’s perceptions of rural England. Owen Patterson is going to make sure the badger cull sticks this summer. Government persists in saying this must happen but has still not simply explained to the national majority exactly why. I suspect for most people earnest drives to do things like this seem like hearing the middle of a passionate argument, without fully understanding the justification for the views given. Once we start to get pictures of piles of dead badgers in the press I suspect there will be some earnest reflection on how well the justification for the policy has been communicated. I dont have a closed mind to this issue personally, I know it is complicated, but I along with millions of others would like to fully understand the options and decisions. As this article reports at the NFU conference:

Mr Paterson said: ”Bovine TB is spreading at an alarming rate and causing real devastation to our beef and dairy industry. ” 

He said Natural England issued authorisation letters which confirmed culling could proceed this summer, as an important step towards taking the action needed to tackle the spread of TB in wildlife.

“I am determined that there are no further delays this year. That is why we have taken the sensible step with the farming industry to elect a reserve area that can be called upon should anything happen to prevent culling in Somerset or Gloucester.

“These pilot culls are just one part of our approach to control and eradicate this dreadful disease.”

The move was welcomed by National Farmers’ Union president Peter Kendall who said it would have been easy for the Environment Secretary to let TB slip down the list of priorities after last year’s delay.

He backed Mr Paterson for working to ensure that the pilots were up and running this summer and that there would be a full roll-out of the cull next year.

The move was criticised by Labour, which has consistently opposed a badger cull.

Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said: “The Government is pressing ahead with a badger cull despite 150 000 people signing a petition against it last year and scientists warning against this ‘untested and risky approach’.”

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