RSPCA faces NFU backlash on cull stance
The RSPCA has been labelled irresponsible for calling on farmers and marksmen involved in South West badger culls next year to be named and shamed.
The National Farmers' Union has hit back at comments made by RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant on the BBC's Panorama about the cull as part of the bovine TB campaign.
During the programme Mr Grant said: "The spotlight of attention will be turned on those marksmen and those who give permission for this cull to take place. They will be named and we will decide whether they will be shamed."
But NFU director of policy Martin Haworth said: "With these comments Mr Grant has overstepped the mark and in doing so confirmed our worst fears that the RSPCA is no longer a responsible organisation with animal welfare at its core. Mr Grant has actively encouraged people to identify farmers and those carrying out the badger culls next year without a thought for their safety, their families' safety or the security of their homes.
"This is tantamount to inciting a campaign of fear and intimidation – which I find wholly unacceptable and completely irresponsible. I am extremely disappointed with the RPSCA's approach to tackling what is one of the most serious issues affecting our beef and dairy herds today.
"This is not just a badger welfare issue, as 34,000 cattle were slaughtered because of TB in 2011. Rather than encouraging the targeting of farmers, the RSPCA should focus its efforts on animal welfare across the board. The majority of experts all agree, a badger vaccination programme in isolation won't solve this crisis, and a cattle vaccine is still years away. In all its rhetoric, the RSPCA has failed to come up with a single workable solution to dealing with this terrible disease."