Badger cull blow could see off Gloucestershire beef farmer
BEEF farmer David Barton could be forced to give up his cattle because the pilot cull of badgers has been postponed.
The farmer from near Cirencester has had to slaughter 44 cows since February after they tested positive for TB.
Mr Barton has spoken out after a trial cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset, to assess the impact on cattle TB, would be delayed until next summer.
He said there was "no point" in restocking his herd, branding the cull postponement as "outrageous".
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Mr Barton said: "There's no point in me restocking because of the level of infection in wildlife we have in and around the farm, so I'll most likely have to give up farming cattle,"
"Had the pilot culls gone ahead and been successful...it would have given us some hope that we can get on top of this disease, but to leave it out there is an outrage."
Dairy farmer Jan Rowe, director of GlosCon, the company set up to organise the cull locally, admitted there was no way the firm could have achieved the targets being set by the Government this year.
He said: "The delay comes from the number of badgers to be killed, which needed to be put on the licence.
"We were initially looking at 1,800 badgers which we felt, along with Natural England, to be the right target and we were geared up for this figure.
"Then, 10 days ago, we got a new estimate – which we don't know the rational behind – which put the figure at 2,900 badgers which needed to be caught in six weeks.
"We just don't have faith in these figures and, at this stage in the year, we do not have the facilities to do it.
"It was better to delay and sort out the figures so we can find out if they are correct."
Martin Horwood, Liberal Democrat Cheltenham MP, said: "I'm delighted at the postponement, it gives us time to convince the Government to abandon it."
Laurence Robertson, Conservative Tewkesbury MP, said the delay was "sensible", but added: "We have got to do something about the spread of this disease."
An extraordinary meeting called by Gloucestershire County Council to discuss culling practice is still due to go ahead at Shire Hall on Monday.