MEANWHILE the chairman of the NFU's South West regional board has said the report of the independent panel into the Somerset and Gloucester culls should be challenged.
Martin Howlett was speaking as many of the region's 10,000 members expressed their frustration that 'politics' has taken precedence over animal health and is compromising the welfare of all susceptible species, including domestic pets, in the battle against bovine TB.
Beef farmer Mr Howlett, whose own farm in east Cornwall has battled with the disease, has also written to HRH the Princess Royal on behalf of the board thanking her for expressing her concerns publicly over the animal welfare consequences for farm animals and wildlife of unchecked TB. Princess Anne has said gassing is the most humane way to control the badgers.
Farmers are facing ever tighter controls on cattle movements and Mr Howlett said: "We know we have to do our bit to rid the countryside of this pestilence and are jumping through every hoop to do so."
"But when we see all too frequently closed herds going down with TB we know the disease is in the wildlife population, particularly badgers, which inhabit the same pastures and are the greatest excreters of TB bacilli via their urine, dung and sputum.
"Vets confirm our concerns, and not even the most vociferous animal rights protestors can deny that there is cross contamination between the species, so farmers think why on earth are we sacrificing all these cattle and putting them and ourselves through a huge amount of stress when we know that the disease is still out there thriving in the fields