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New Defra minister backs badger cull amid "massive threat" to countryside

By GDemianyk  |  Posted: July 17, 2014

Liz Truss: "The reality is that bovine TB represents a massive threat to our dairy and beef industries."

Comments (22)

The new Environment Secretary has signalled the Government remains fully behind badger culling to tackle the  "massive threat" posed to the South West countryside by tuberculosis in cows.
Liz Truss, who took charge of the rural affairs brief from Owen Paterson earlier this week, was accused by Labour of "flunking" her first test after she vowed to use "every tool in our toolbox" to eradicate the disease.
The Government has decided this year not to expand the cull of badgers, blamed for spreading bovine tuberculosis. But it will continue  "pilot" culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire with a view to rolling out more if proved successful.
The Independent Expert Panel (IEP) found that shooting free-running badgers in the first year of the two schemes was ineffective, and failed to meet humaneness criteria.
Making her dispatch box debut in the post, Ms Truss rejected Labour's call for an independent scientific assessment of the second year of the cull, saying the Natural England quango would act as the watchdog.
Speaking in the Commons, Shadow Environment secretary Maria Eagle told MPs she was "appalled" to hear Ms Truss would continue with the "discredited, unscientific, inhumane and ineffective" badger cull.
Pushed by Ms Eagle to guarantee the IEP will report on the second year of the cull, Ms Truss replied: "Let's be absolutely clear, the reality is that bovine TB represents a massive threat to our dairy and beef industries, and we are looking at a potential of a loss of over £1 billion of economic growth in our country and we need to look at the best scientific evidence."
Ms Eagle told the Environment Secretary: "That's a disappointing reply – I'm afraid you've just flunked your first test and missed a golden opportunity to put scientific evidence back where it ought to be in Defra, at the very centre of the decision-making.
"Will you now undertake to ask the IEP to report, as it did on year one of the culls, on year two of the culls, yes or no?"
Ms Truss replied: "Let's be absolutely clear, we are asking Natural England – a proper expert body – to assess the way that the culls are going and to look at what we can do in the future. But I am absolutely clear that we must use every tool in our toolbox to address this threat to our beef and dairy industries."
Ms Truss said she has spoken with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' scientific adviser about culling, and the department is "progressing with our programme".
Anti-cull campaigners, who have high-profile supporters including musician Brian May, favour badger and cattle vaccines, and while the Government is investing money in both ministers argue they do nothing for infected cattle and are also fraught by inefficiency and EU agreement.
During the session, North Dorset Conservative MP Robert Walter said there was "disappointment and anger" among farmers in Dorset that the badger cull was not extended to the county this year, and asked for assurances Defra was  "on-stream to roll out effective control of bovine TB" next year.
"Our view is that we should improve and get the methodology of the cull right in the two existing pilots before we roll out new ones," said Farming Minister George Eustice.

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  • barney2  |  July 18 2014, 5:30PM

    mmjames Well I do read a lot but fact not fiction, unlike you who seem to be obsessed with fiction.

  • StripeyBrock  |  July 18 2014, 12:56PM

    mmjames, You do make me laugh. As opposed to the reticence displayed by the pro-cull politicians, pro-cull farmers and badger killers, do you mean? Hardly a day goes by when we are not treated to one or another of such people exposing themselves (so to speak) ;-)

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  • mmjames  |  July 18 2014, 12:20PM

    barney2 | July 18 2014, 12:06PM You've obviously read Aldous Huxley then?

  • barney2  |  July 18 2014, 12:06PM

    mmjames They have nothing to hide, do you ?.

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  • mmjames  |  July 18 2014, 8:37AM

    NO threat intended, merely amusement that you all seem to like everyone to know your whereabouts and business these days..... NAIVE in the extreme how you share with all and sundry in general life too. Perhaps you should read a bit of Aldous Huxley.

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  • StripeyBrock  |  July 17 2014, 11:07PM

    @Mmjames, hardly a secret! Your attempt to sound threatening, in line with your other posts, is merely amusing.

    |   6
  • StripeyBrock  |  July 17 2014, 11:06PM

    @mmjames. Hardly a secret. Your attempt to sound threatening is, in line with your other posts, highly amusing.

    |   8
  • groundnut  |  July 17 2014, 9:56PM

    That info was known by all MM James, the badger army is certainly growing. But just in case you did not know this many of the setts and areas around now have surveillance so we can see you coming. You could end up on candid camera or even the DM. not a pretty site. or even your local WMN. You would not want to be identified by fellow Pub goers as a Badger Killer. !!!

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  • mmjames  |  July 17 2014, 9:14PM

    , dianebartlet | Thursday, July 17 2014, 3:06PM Badger Army is huge now and will be in the cull zone .......................................................................................................... Very useful knowledge, thankyou Diane :)

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  • barryterry-2  |  July 17 2014, 8:10PM

    Well done Liz Truss you got the job and showed such promise .A fresh face with new ideas and someone who could follow the best scientific advice to stop badger killing / update our flood defences /and stop horse meat polluting the food chain .But no, all we get is Paterson in a skirt

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