No action in badger culling
The Ulster Farmers' Union says the Welsh Assembly decision to begin a targeted badger cull to reduce the incidence of TB is in stark contrast to the lack of action in Northern Ireland.
UFU president Kenneth Sharkey said: "Farmers in Wales can now feel that something is being done to address the TB problem. In Northern Ireland absolutely no progress is being made despite the disastrous impact TB is having on farm businesses and on the health of our wildlife. Once again we have to call on DARD to take decisive action to reduce and eradicate TB".
Last year over 7,000 TB infected cattle were slaughtered in Northern Ireland, a higher incidence than a decade ago in 1997. The bill to tax payers was over £21 million.
Sharkey said; "The current TB policy does not work. Infected farm animals are being slaughtered but when the herd is re-stocked the disease re-emerges because it has remained on the farm in the wildlife population. Unless the wildlife source of the disease is removed then the current problems are just going to continue".
"A badger cull is a very difficult issue for the public to contemplate. However it makes no sense to see thousands of badgers also suffering due to this terrible disease. We want to eradicate the disease totally from Northern Ireland so that farm animals and badgers no longer have to suffer". In the Republic of Ireland 40% of badgers were found to be carrying the disease.
Sharkey added; "We need a radical change in our TB policy. Despite carrying out almost 2.5 million animal tests each year at a considerable cost to farmers, the disease incidence is still unacceptable. The farming industry has gone to great lengths and cost to tackle TB, but the disease keeps re-emerging because it clearly is present in wildlife. Thousands of local farms with TB breakdowns are unable to sell their livestock and frustration is mounting. TB has a huge effect on farm businesses in practical terms, in financial terms, and in the level of stress placed on the farmer".
Last year the Ulster Farmers' Union welcomed a Report from the UK Governments chief scientific officer Sir David King, which highlighted that the culling of badgers in targeted conditions could be effective in tackling the spread of Bovine TB in cattle.