George meets farmers to discuss Bovine TB eradication project

Posted on: 11th April 2013

Local MP, Andrew George, will meet with farmers’ representatives today (Thursday 11th April 2013) to discuss his plans for a Bovine TB eradication project in West Cornwall based on the vaccination of the badger population.

At a recent meeting called by the MP, more than 40 people attended to offer their strong support for an initiative for badger vaccination; and to volunteer to take traps, to train and obtain vaccianator licences as part of a small “army” to administer the project in West Cornwall.  The meeting today is to negotiate with farmers and landowners plans for the project and to secure support to take it to the next stage.

Mr George has already contacted Farming Minister, David Heath MP, in Defra and to seek the cooperation of Government and the Food Environment Research Agency – the Government’s agency which is advising Defra on its Bovine TB strategy.  Mr George will be accompanied at the meeting by Professor Rosie Woodroffe, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Zoology in London.  Professor Woodroffe was one of the Government’s Independent Scientific Group experts who oversaw the so-called “Krebs trials” which also involved the culling of badgers in parts of Penwith over a decade ago.

Mr George said, “The support offered so far for this project is very encouraging.  Whilst it seems the Government is determined to go ahead with its badger culling pilots in Somerset and Gloucestershire, I really don’t think that such a project would ever get off the ground in this area.  In any case, as I have already said in Parliament, I fear that such an approach is likely to be counterproductive and risks making the problem even worse.

“Bovine TB is having a devastating effect on cattle farms here in West Cornwall and it is essential that we make every effort to get on top of it.

“I am encouraged by the support that I have received so far from many volunteers who are keen to help.

“However, the project cannot proceed without the cooperation and support of local farmers and landowners.  Therefore, I hope for a productive meeting today before I seek a meeting with the Farming Minister and Government officials to take the project to the next stage.”

The project already has the support of the National Trust, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).  ZSL is likely to take on the role of manager of the project.