Badger Trust letter to Peter Kendall, NFU – re BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The Report’

The Badger Trust sent the letter below to Mr. P. Kendall, President, NFU on Tuesday 23rd August 2011. 

Mr. P. Kendall,
President, NFU,
Agriculture House,
Stoneleigh Park,
CV8 2TZ.

23rd August 2011. (Sent initially by e-mail)

Dear Mr. Kendall, 

BBC Radio 4 Programme “The Report” – 4th August 2011 8.00 p.m. 

I am sure you are aware that Badger Trust wrote to the Secretary of State for the Environment on 15th August 2011 expressing our concerns about the above programme, but in case you have not seen the letter, a copy is attached for your information. We are appalled that farmers are openly admitting on national radio that criminal activity involving a protected species is taking place and this is to formally ask you as President of the NFU, what do you intend to do about it? 

I have delayed sending this letter in the expectation that you would issue a clear public statement to your members that the illegal and inhumane gassing of badgers should cease immediately. Unfortunately your silence on the matter appears to indicate that you condone the crimes which are being perpetrated, which we find a surprising attitude from somebody in your position who will be aware both of the potential harm this is doing to the eradication of bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) and the suffering caused to the badgers. 

Quite apart from the fact that the random and intermittent slaughter of badgers is likely to increase the perturbation effect, thus jeopardising the efficiency of other cattle control measures in place in the area, gassing was outlawed in 1982. This was primarily as a result of animal welfare issues but there was also concern about ineffective dispersal throughout the sett and the present government has stated that gassing will not be considered as a means of controlling the badger population. We are very concerned that there is increasing discussion in the media regarding the use of gassing for so called “red setts” together with claims that it is possible to identify not only infectious badgers but also infected setts. Such claims are unsubstantiated and false. I therefore reiterate, in your capacity as President of the NFU, what do you propose to do to help to prevent the indiscriminate gassing of badgers? Your leadership in this matter can only be of benefit to your members. Your early reply will be appreciated. 

Yours sincerely,
David Williams, Chairman.

2 Responses to “Badger Trust letter to Peter Kendall, NFU – re BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The Report’

  1. Day by day since the riots people are receiving quite heavy custodial sentences for inciting others to riot using social networking.
    If Caroline Spelman and the NFU do not act on this they are condoning the illegal gassing of badgers and encouraging others to follow suit and should face similar consequences as the above for their action.
    All are encouraging illegal action or is this just my view?

  2. There is no ‘silence’ from the NFU on this matter. The NFU are clearly against ‘gassing’ of setts and this was made abundantly clear by Kevin Pearce at the NFU council in 2010. The issue of ‘gassing’ not only has ethical considerations, but ‘gassing’ means that carcasses remain buried in the sett and sources of bTB infection on the farm. The FUW also have a ‘shop a rouge’ policy. Whilst it’s understandable for those campaigning against other legal culling proposals to try and associate a criminal act of one or two idiots with the vast majority of farmers, such a claim is a bit like calling all residents of North London, “looters”. This letter to the NFU is really a mark of desperation by anti-cull campaigners and a failure to engage with the farming community over the real issues involved. I think both sides in the bTB issue should engage constructively in solving the bTB issue rather than firing off misinformed propaganda letters intending to demonise farmers. The only time I have heard the term ‘red setts’ is in papers produced on a controlled badger vaccination program where results were measured against known infected and non-infected setts. The BBC are wrong to associate this term with general badger populations, farming practice, or proposed culls.