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Call for badger cull to reach Shropshire

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The Government's badger cull needs to be brought to Shropshire to help beleaguered farmers who are losing cattle to TB, it has been claimed.

John Mercer, regional director for the NFU in the West Midlands, has thrown his support behind an extended badger cull which could come to Shropshire.

He said extending the cull, which began in Somerset and Gloucestershire yesterday, would be a "regrettable but necessary" act to prevent the ongoing movement of bovine tuberculosis.

Mr Mercer said bovine TB remained rife in Shropshire.

"While Shropshire is not included in the pilot cull areas it is hoped that the culls will be rolled out further in the future, in areas where TB is rife in an attempt to ride the country of this terrible disease," he said.

"Many Shropshire beef and dairy farms have been decimated by bovine TB with thousands of cattle slaughtered, whole herds and blood lines wiped out and this has caused huge problems for farm businesses and emotional heartache to farming families who just want to get on and do what they do best which is provide great tasting, high welfare food for the British public."

Environment Secretary and North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson has already given his backing to spreading the cull across the country, citing its effectiveness in countries such as New Zealand, Australia and Ireland.

Across England, the number of cattle slaughtered because of TB rose by seven per cent to 28,284 last year, while the the total number of new incidents in herds rose by five per cent to 3,941.

But in Shropshire the number of animals being killed fell from 2,357 to 1,974 during 2012 – the lowest figure since 2009 when 1,251 animals were destroyed.

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Mr Mercer said: "The spread of bovine TB across the country has to be stopped and farmers recognise the importance of tackling this disease in the badger population.

"This is a regrettable but necessary Government decision based on the latest available science.

"Let's be absolutely clear that this is not about eradicating badgers this is about tackling a disease that is out of control, having a massive impact on livestock and badgers alike – our ultimate aim is to have healthy cattle, healthy badgers and a healthy British countryside."

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