Welsh farm leaders still confident on badger cull

WELSH farming leaders have expressed confidence that the introduction of a new Labour Rural Affairs Minister will not derail plans for a west Wales badger cull.

The Farmers Union of Wales said the new administration would look ‘ridiculous’ if it abandons plans for a cull, given the level of cross-party support shown previously. 

Plaid Cymru’s Elin Jones, who has pushed forward plans for a cull in north Pembrokeshire and parts of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire as part a Welsh TB eradication programme during her time as Welsh Rural Affairs Minister, is set to be replaced by a Labour Minister.

Ms Jones retained her Ceredigion constituency seat with a 1,777 majority in last Thursday’s election, despite considerable opposition from some campaigners over her policy on badger culling .

But the elections were a triumph for Labour, which secured secure 30 seats, up four, while Plaid Cymru, its former coalition partner, got only 11, down four.

Even though Labour fell just short of the 31 needed to give it a majority in the Assembly, party leader Carwyn Jones has confirmed will seek to go it alone with a minority Government and is set to appoint a Cabinet containing solely Labour Ministers today.

Among those touted as possible successors to Ms Jones was Alun Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent, recently chaired the Assembly’s Rural Development sub-Committee. There was also speculation Mr Jones could seek to merge the Environment and Rural Affairs portfolios into one.   

The approach of Ms Jones successor to bTB and the planned west Wales will be closely monitored by farmers and opponents of the cull alike. The Order permitting a cull is already in place, although the Badger Trust has signalled its intention to challenge it in the courts.

In its manifesto, the Welsh Labour Party left its options open, saying it would ‘take a science-led approach to evaluate and review the best way of tackling Bovine TB’, potentially paving the way for a  review before pressing ahead with any cull.

But FUW TB spokesman Brian Walters pointed out that the Order permitting the Welsh badger cull was challenged in the Assembly in March, AMs overwhelmingly supported the proposed cull by 42 votes to eight.

He said the new Welsh Assembly Government would ‘look ridiculous if it did not carry forward the plans agreed previously, and repeatedly supported by the majority of those who have been returned as AMs’.

“Delays and procrastination under the guise of a review would simply add to the crippling impact of the current epidemic,” he said.

He added that ongoing data from the English badger culling trials recently showed culling ‘to be even more effective and long lasting than previously thought’.

NFU Wales deputy president Stephen James said he was confident the new administration would press ahead with the cull, given the cross-party consensus demonstrated in the March vote.

 “I expect the policy to continue,” he said. “They haven’t got a big majority and I would guess there are more important issues for the Welsh Assembly than not culling badgers.”

Readers' comments (156)

  • I think its worth pointing out that the recent vote referred to by Brian Walters and Stephen James was not a vote on the prinicipal of any cull but rather on the legislation to allow the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) to manage the cull.

    The following is a quote from a WAG member (who has just been re-elected) who I contacted in the aftermath of that vote.

    "It is extremely important to emphasise the vote on the motion to annul the Badger (Control Area) (Wales) Order 2011 was not a vote on the principle of a cull. It was a vote on the legislation to allow the Welsh Assembly Government to manage a planned, targeted, regulated, humane badger cull.
    If the Motion to annul had been passed, Elin Jones, AM, the Minister for Rural Affairs, would have been able to issue individual licenses to farmers to allow them to cull badgers. I did not want to see this happen as I believe it would open the door to the possibility of there being uncontrolled killing of badgers. "

    The impression that I gained is that the majority of members voted for the same reasons. They believed that if there was to be a cull then it should not be carried out by farmers.

    Now thats not to say there will be a repeal of the control order under the new assembly, however under a Labour Government it would not surprise me at all.

    The Plaid Cymru vote really doesn't carry much weight anymore, so even combined with the Tory vote it would not defeat any Labour motion to stop the control order.

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  • Scratch that, just found out that Alun Davies has been appointed as Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes.

    The pro-cull people can start celebrating now.....or is celebrating the wrong word?

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  • The new Government and AMs should not forget that there was an unprecedented response during the public consultation process to the proposals, with the vast majority against the cull as proposed. These responses were ignored by those previous;y in power. Why bother wasting vast sums of public money on a consultation if the results are ignored? Not democratic. Also Jones herself publicly acknowledged she lost a significant number of votes in this election due to her TB eradication policy. Let's hope the new administration listens to its public.

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  • For goodness sake what business is of people in the town! If you didn't see them on the telly you wouldn't give a toss leave farmers carry out what they need to

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  • @Townie,

    Sorry don't agree with you there, its everybodies business, the disease may affect farmers more, however everybody has a vested interest in this subject.

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  • Farmers need to wake up and understand that they are not an island. What they produce and how they produce it is going to come under very much more scrutiny by the customer (townies). Especially now that they have been found 'keen' to sweep aside any wildlife that may be seen to be interfering with their income and profit.

    The time has come to 'out' the pro-cull lobby as just wildlife haters who are jumping on the 'TB scaremonger frenzy' to get back to being intrinsically cruel.

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  • Hi everyone. This is not a popularity contest, this is about disease control and yes it absolutely does effect all of us. We can not afford to let M.bovis become endemic in the wild. Whatever the politics, we must work together to get rid of it. Please let us focus on the disease and not prejudices about other people, we don't know and so assume to be bad.

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  • So tax spenders money is spent on a test which is either being ignored or was useless.

    I feel sorry for the Welsh people who don't want this and work in tourism.

    Who makes your machinery, your cars, your computers, your mobile phones. Where do you buy them from?

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  • @I'm Keith too! | 13 May 2011 12:10 pm

    You need to wake up to the fact that Badgers are the main species that suffer the full affects of TB (consumption) by dieing a very cruel death,cattle are killed long before the condition sets in.I assume you hate farmers so much that you are incapable of believing any Badgers have TB in the first place>

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  • @I'm also a keith
    Sorry was that one aimed at me?
    I'd be interested to know what Keith has to say to his fan club on this one.
    Hi Keith, hope your field work has gone well for you - over to you....

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