Labour dismays NFU with badger cull promise

Labour has pledged to abandon the badger culls if they win the general election in May.

In an election campaign document, ‘Labour: Protecting animals’, Shadow Environment Secretary Maria Eagle announced a six-point plan to tackle animal welfare issues, which include abandoning the badger culls, as well as a ban on wild animals in circuses and fox hunting.

Eagle describes the badger culls, a method of controlling bovine TB in cattle in England, as “ineffective and inhumane”.

This has been met with opposition from a prominent supporter of the culls, Meurig Raymond, president of the National Farmers’ Union, who has urged Labour not to allow the fight against bTB to become a “political football”.

“We do not consider it good animal welfare to allow a disease that is devastating farming family businesses, and for which there is no cure, to be left to spread unchecked in wildlife and create more misery.

“To stop the culls halfway through goes against the evidence from previous research, which showed that culling over four years had a positive impact on reducing bTB in cattle.”

“Eradicating this disease has to be put beyond party political point-scoring and populist policies designed to win votes. It is simply too serious an issue. Whoever is in government will be required to deal with bTB and will need to have a robust, credible eradication strategy to do so,” Raymond said.

Party leader Ed Miliband commented on the announcement: “Our Labour values tell us that we have a moral duty to treat the animals we share our planet with in a humane and compassionate way.

“No other major political party has such a proven track record of decisive action for animals at home, on farms and in the wild.”

However, the news has been welcomed by the Badger Trust and animal welfare activists. Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust, believes Ed Miliband is responding to a recent MORI poll, showing the badger cull was the fifth most common issue of complaint to MPs in 2014.

“I am pleased to see that the Labour Party recognise that the badger cull has been a massive failure on scientific, economic and humaneness grounds and that playing the badger blame game must be stopped when it comes to  reducing the spread of bovine TB,” Dyer reported.

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