Soil Association comment: Badger cull & organic status
21 September 2012
Bovine TB causes suffering to cattle, has already caused more cattle deaths than foot and mouth disease and causes trauma for the farmers involved. TB has cost over £500 million of taxpayer’s money in the last decade. The Soil Association's position on TB and cattle is, first, that the top priority must be to develop a vaccine that will protect cattle and wildlife from this disease. This is in line with our position on foot and mouth disease, where we argued for vaccination and against slaughtering cattle. We also believe more attention must be paid to increasing the positive health of cattle, through more humane management, so they are better able to resist TB and other diseases.
The science surrounding the issue of badger culling is still contested. Farmers licensed by the Soil Association, the experts we work with, and our supporters, all have different views on whether, as part of the measures taken to control TB in cattle, it is right or wrong to kill badgers in limited areas of the country. As far as farmers licensed by the Soil Association are concerned, our standards cover all aspects of production, but not other things that happen on farms such as public access, or killing animals like rats or rabbits, and decisions on whether to allow badgers to be killed on their land is something individual organic farmers will decide.
It would not make sense for consumers to stop buying organic milk if they disagree with badger culling when independent reviews have shown that no other system of farming has higher animal welfare standards and government studies have shown that organic farms have up to 50% more wildlife.