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Badger cull not a high priority for the public

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Despite the high-profile protests against the badger cull which started in Gloucestershire and Somerset this month, a  new poll has revealed that the majority of the British public is not really bothered about the issue.

The YouGov survey showed that while 34 per cent of people oppose a badger cull, the remaining 66 per cent either support (29 per cent), don't know (22 per cent) or have no strong feelings (15 per cent) about a cull.

The survey also revealed that more than a quarter of people opposed to a cull would change their mind if it meant TB did not spread to other areas of the country. Only two per cent of 1,763 people asked considered a badger cull to be one of the most important issues facing the UK at the moment.

"The findings of this survey by YouGov show that the badger cull is not a big issue for the vast majority of the British public but to the thousands of farming families living with the constant threat of TB and its devastating effects on their businesses and families, tackling this disease is the most important issue in their lives," said NFU vice-president Adam Quinney.

"More than 38,000 cattle were compulsorily slaughtered in Great Britain in 2012 in the fight against TB and we must take action now. A cull is not about wiping out badgers. It is about reducing TB in areas where it is endemic. This will ensure this terrible disease doesn't spread to areas of the country that are currently clear of it.

"Farmers are already playing their part in tackling TB. Robust new on-farm rules were introduced in January 2013 as part of the Government's TB eradication plan, which aims to tackle all aspects of TB infection in the countryside. These rules followed the introduction of additional cattle controls, more pre-movement testing and increased on-farm biosecurity measures last July.

"But if we are to successfully tackle TB action has to be taken to deal with the reservoir of disease in our wildlife. Evidence from countries such as Ireland and New Zealand shows that when all fronts of the disease are tackled at the same time a significant reduction in TB can be achieved."

Defra minister Owen Paterson said if the trial is deemed successful and safe then it will be extended.

"We will roll out 10 new cull zones next year, and 10 more in each of the three years after that," he said.

The YouGov poll result was backed up by a separate survey for The Grocer which showed that 55 per cent of consumers accept the cull is necessary or support it as long as it is done humanely.

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