I have to admit to the cunning underpinning this story appealing to me. It tells us:

Natural England issued a licence for farmers to shoot badgers in West Gloucestershire last week. A cull in West Somerset is expected to get the go-ahead this week.

Farmers argue that the cull will stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis, a cattle disease that is carried by badgers.

However the policy has caused public outcry. Brian May, the former guitar player with Queen and animal rights activist, has called on consumers to boycott milk from the farms involved.

Now Gavin Grant, the Chief Executive of the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals, has called for ‘badger-friendly’ labels on milk.

He said the labels could be displayed on dairy products that are guaranteed not to be from farms where the cull is being carried out.

I can see however how such an approach is deeply flawed from a practical perspective whilst being a publicity masterstroke. What about farmers in the geographies concerned who aren’t involved in the cull? What about the arguments in favour of the cull? Although I think the reasons advanced on Farming Today this morning were not well argued and patronisingly put by MP they featured.

This story will colour views of rural England as a place mired in strife for weeks and months to come. Is the fuss being created a good reason to discontinue plans for the cull in its own right? If not, as with many rural story lines, should the arguments not be much better rehearsed?

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