The National Farmers Union says the government needs to use more ways than just culling badgers if they are to eradicate bovine TB.

Their response comes after the government placed culling at the heart of its 25-year strategy to end the disease and that this year has shown badger control can be delivered successfully.

But Minette Batters, NFU Deputy President, also added that they were disappointed the government will restrict compensation for cattle which are unclean when presented at auction.

“The chief vet has said that this year’s results show badger control can be delivered successfully on a wider scale and that expansion into further areas will help achieve and maintain long-term disease control benefits across the area where the disease is rife,” she said.

“We will continue to offer help, advice and support to farmers who want to apply for a cull licence in these areas and where culling will have a beneficial impact on disease control.

“The chief vet has also reiterated that preventing infection of cattle from the significant reservoirs of TB infection in local badger populations is an essential component of the government’s 25-year TB eradication strategy and that proactive culling remains the best available option to deal with the reservoir of disease in wildlife in these areas.

“No one has ever said culling alone will eradicate bovine TB. Only by using all the available options – cattle testing, cattle movement controls, on-farm biosecurity, and vaccination of badgers in areas on the edge of disease spread – will we stand a chance of controlling and eradicating this devastating disease, which led to more than 29,000 cattle being slaughtered in England last year.

“We are disappointed that Defra has decided to press ahead with restricting compensation for cattle which are unclean when presented for slaughter.”