Defra continues to appease the NFU over badgers

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

Thursday evening's BBC Radio 4 PM programme had an interview with the Defra secretary of state, Owen Patterson, on England's failed pilot badger culls.  You can listen to it here, at around 40 mins in.

The consistently admirable Eddie Mair gave Patterson a rough, but unfailingly polite, ride by refusing to accept his (Patterson's) assertions that the badger cull pilots had not been a disaster for both badgers and cattle alike, and for his policies.  See this detailed comment from badger expert Patrick Barkham on the culls, and on what is now proposed.  It was much the same experience on Channel 4 News later in the day.

Patterson is a complex character who resists pigeon-holing, as this profile reveals, and he does seem to be in a difficult spot – caught between the science and National Farmers Union (NFU) intransigence.  And so the killings (of badgers) and the deaths (of cattle) are to go on, as there are to be even more pilots, presumably until they can give the right answer – that is, that they work.  But there are going to be vaccinations as well, around the edges of the cull areas.

Whether this adds up to anything coherent is not my call, but the NFU will have been appeased, so that's one strategic policy objective that's doing ok.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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