Charles Mann, Chairman of Gloucestershire NFU on the badger cull
THE Secretary of State confirmed this week, at the NFU Conference, the issuing of licences to both pilot badger control areas, West Glos and West Somerset.
And farmers in the pilot area are both relieved and thankful for this support.
It is important to realise that the Government and farmers are keen to achieve a healthy cattle population, a healthy wildlife population and healthy farm businesses.
We farmers spend much of our time looking after the environment and wildlife. Some of this work falls within very effective environmental schemes and some is because we, like so many others, appreciate the joys of our countryside and want to do all we can to enhance a thriving environment.
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At the same time, we are managing our cattle herds and it is depressing and disheartening when, having complied with the myriad of movement controls, TB testing regimes and restrictions on our businesses, this wretched disease continues to spread and infect even more herds, spreading progressively out of the South West and now endemic in Shropshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire.
In the meantime, with the horsemeat saga continuing to reveal more depressingly lax controls in our food chain, this is shredding the trust and confidence that consumers have quite rightly grown to expect.
It will take some time to rebuild this confidence and, in the meantime, the best advice has to be to shop where the chain is shortest. And that means asking the questions of the shopkeeper, butcher or farm shop proprietor to let you know exactly where his meat has come from.
Local butchers have survived and now is as a good a moment as any to support them and have full confidence that they will know exactly who has supplied them and where it was slaughtered. Now is a good time to reconnect with real meat. The landscapes of the Cotswolds and Forest have been forged by farming and agricultural practices and it is this landscape that brings so many tourists who provide such an important trade to the area.
Enjoy the cattle and sheep wandering the hills and fields, while at the same time realising how important they are to all of us in Gloucestershire – let's keep it that way and keep them healthy and disease free.