Cllr Lauren Kendall calls on DAERA to stop the slaughter, and provide farmers with support and solutions to deal with Bovine TB

The Holywood and Clandeboye DEA representative said, 'DAERA talks about protecting farmers and their cattle, but where bovine TB (bTB) is concerned in NI the department prefers badger slaughter to support and solutions.  

'Year on year bTB wreaks havoc on cattle and farmers' livelihoods but investing money in a system-wide, holistic approach to tackling bTB is still ignored in favour of the "kill them and see" option.  The recent decision by the High Court, ruling badger shooting parties as unlawful, highlights DAERA's failure to consult widely, failure to ensure all scientific evidence has been considered, and failure to learn from research and therefore to develop robust approaches to bTB in order to protect farmers and wildlife. 

'It shouldn't take organisations like Wild Justice and the Northern Ireland Badger Group to take legal action for the Department to adequately consider the evidence. BtB continues to have a devastating impact on farmers. Ineffective methods of disease control, a reliance on ineffective testing methods, and the unwillingness to change approach to the spread of the disease costs farmers and the taxpayer.  It is not just the financial impacts that we should be concerned about, nor the important wildlife welfare considerations and protection of our badgers, but also the impact on farmers' morale.  Years have gone by and farmers still do not see a reduction in bTB nor a solution in sight. 

'Review of evidence by the Badger Trust, shows no significant easting of bTB in England despite 10 years of culling. With the cost of dealing with bTB Northern Ireland expected to reach over £50m last year, farmers deserve a better response.  We need to improve cattle testing, to ensure early detection, to reduce cattle movement, and implement cattle-focused interventions.  Research by Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute shows cattle-to-cattle transmission of bTB more responsible for disease spread (94%) than badger-to-cattle transmission (5.7%). Investment in innovative solutions now, will reduce costs in the future.

Innovative solutions are being tested, trialled and are being found to have successful results in reducing disease spread, reducing harm to farmers, cattle and wildlife. Scapegoating a protected species through slaughter, ignores the real problem - the lack of support for the farming community by developing and implementing evidence-based, partnership approaches to tackling this disease."