Badger culling will continue in England for as long as necessary, with Defra Secretary Therese Coffey confirming there was ‘no set end date'.
In an exclusive interview with Farmers Guardian from her office at Defra's headquarters in London (September 12), Ms Coffey made it clear she did not agree with her predecessor's ‘arbitrary deadline' on ending the badger cull.
With bTB herd incidence rates tumbling since the start of intensive culling in high risk and edge areas of England, she stressed there would be no deadline.
"We will keep culling for as long as we need to keep culling and there might be areas of the country where there might still be seepage and we will assess that and if we start to see problems in different parts of the country we will consider culling there too," she said.
See also: More news on bovine TB
"This is not about some shoot up badgers fest, this is about trying to make sure we use science and epidemiology appropriately and back our science but ultimately we have to support our farmers to get through this difficult time."
The Secretary of State's strong stance will be welcomed by farmers in England who have been concerned by the looming deadline and intention to phase out culling in favour of badger and cattle vaccination, announced by George Eustice in 2020.
Speaking at the Back British Farming event in Westminster today (September 14), Farming Minister Mark Spencer added: "We have made huge progress in hitting bTB with everything we have got, particularly in the south west and now is not the time to stop throwing everything at it.
"That will include vaccination and working with biosecurity on farm. But we have got to use every tool and follow the science not the calendar."