Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has criticised Labour for allowing tuberculosis in cattle to ravage South West farming, and promised not to "walk away" from the problem.
In his keynote conference speech, Mr Paterson said on Labour's watch the disease in cattle saw the number of herd breakdowns in Britain triple and the number of cattle slaughtered increase six-fold.
The Conservatives in opposition called for Labour to sanction a cull of badgers, which are said to spread the disease. Labour refused, but the policy has been introduced by the coalition and two "pilot" culls are taking place in Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Mr Paterson said while there was a "great deal of agreement between the political parties in the 1960s and 1970s" to effectively beat the disease, he said as bovine TB "has become politicised our grip on this disease has weakened".
He told delegates: "However difficult the choices ahead, we must not repeat Labour's failed policy of doing nothing. A policy they continue to promulgate today.
"So to be absolutely clear: this Government will not walk away from the tough decisions that are required to eradicate this devastating disease."
His comments chime with David Cameron's after he told the Western Morning News last week the Government would stick with culling despite fears it risks failing.
Sources have told the WMN not enough badgers are being shot to be successful.
While not offering comments on the success or otherwise of the "pilots", Mr Paterson said culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset have taken place "in difficult terrain and weather, and often in the face of intimidation by a small minority who are determined to stop this disease control policy".
And he reaffirmed his belief culling has helped elsewhere. "The Republic of Ireland, where badgers are now culled, has seen TB infection levels fall by more than 45% since 2000," the minister said. "They are slaughtering close to half the cattle they needed to ten years ago."
Mr Paterson has claimed there would be advantages to climate change – including fewer people dying of cold in winter and the growth of certain crops further north.
The Environment Secretary told a fringe meeting that increases in temperature predicted by a United Nations report should not be seen as entirely negative.
At the RSPB event, the Guardian reported Mr Paterson saying: "Remember that for humans, the biggest cause of death is cold in winter, far bigger than heat in summer. It would also lead to longer growing seasons and you could extend growing a little further north into some of the colder areas.
"I actually see this report as something we need to take seriously but I am rather relieved that it is not as catastrophic in its forecast as we had been led to believe early on, and what it is saying is something we can adapt to over time and we are very good as a race at adapting."