Fury at RSPCA 'attitude on badger cull'

Profile image for Western Morning News

By Western Morning News | Saturday, November 17, 2012, 08:00

A leading animal welfare charity is taking a cynical stance on the pilot badger culls in the South West, a Westcountry MP has warned farmers.

Conservative MP Neil Parish told a meeting of farmers yesterday that their industry must unite against the unhealthy "attitude" of the RSPCA. And he claimed that the RSPCA's stance on TB – and calls by its chief executive Gavin Grant for badger marksmen and farmers allowing culls on their land to be named and shamed – had more to do with raising the organisation's profile, and precious public funds.

Speaking to 60 farmers at the annual open meeting of the Devon branch of the National Farmers' Union (NFU), the MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said: "It is worth asking why the hierarchy of the RSPCA is taking this attitude.

"They have taken a position where they just want to raise money," said Mr Parish, chairman of the Parliamentary Animal Welfare Committee. "By taking this attitude they have lifted their profile to enhance their support."

Mr Parish, an ex-farmer who chaired the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee when he was an MEP, said he wanted to be controversial about the RSPCA because of the attitude taken over the culls, and Mr Grant's statement on a BBC Panorama programme about identifying people involved in the cull.

Mr Parish had spoken in the Parliamentary backbencher debate on the proposed cull, which is part of the Government's programme to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis, responsible for the deaths of 26,000 cattle last year. In that debate the Government had been soundly defeated, attracting only 28 votes in favour of the cull.

"That was because the Government decided it was a back-bench vote and did not get involved," he said. "If that vote had been whipped (as in a full parliamentary debate) the Government would have won." Mr Parish said it was right that the pilot culls in West Somerset and the Tewkesbury area of Gloucestershire had been postponed this year because there was not enough time – but he was adamant they would go ahead next summer.

It had been a nonsense to try to start the culls so late in the year, he said.

"We have a long way to go, because people don't understand what it's really all about, which is disease control. Nearly 6,000 cattle were lost to the disease in Devon alone last year – and a lot of them were young dairy heifers.

"But the public does not understand the implications of that loss.

"We shall have to punch above our weight to get our message across."

One way would be to recruit the Young Farmers' Clubs to use social media and spread the message that way, he stressed.

Fran Barnes, the NFU's head of strategic communications, said the social media was vital – and that wrong information published on it should not go unchallenged. She urged members to use Twitter to get across the true facts and to counter downright wrong information.

But the RSPCA's opposition to the badger cull was not a publicity stunt, the charity insisted.

A spokesman said: "While it is true the charity is facing financial challenges – the same could be said of many organisations. It is unacceptable for the NFU and others to attack the RSPCA's chief executive Gavin Grant, who has the full support of the RSPCA for advocating a position we have held for years.

"The RSPCA has a responsibility to advocate in accordance with our charitable purposes and that is precisely what we are doing on this scientifically flawed, inhumane and unnecessary cull of badgers."



  • Profile image for Barri

    Why is Mr Parish Chairing the Parliamentary Animal Welfare Committee,
    when he can't be bothered about Animal Welfare ?

    By Barri at 16:41 on 23/06/13

  • Profile image for GilesB

    I the RSPCA is serious about 'aiming to prevent animal cruelty' the first thing it should do is sack it's vice president Brian May. Brian May takes a position on deer management that is diametrically opposed to that of the RSPCA who quite rightly support deer culling.

    Brian May's despicable views on wildlife management if implemented would lead to enormous suffering and great cruelty. He is a very evil cruel man.

    By GilesB at 14:32 on 02/12/12

  • Profile image for Kindanimal

    The comments alleging that the RSPCA are only using the badger cull to raise its profile and bring in funds, is absolutely outrageous. It is doing exactly what its subscribers expect it to - aiming to prevent animal cruelty - just as it states in its title. And furthermore, I wonder how many of the accusers know that the statistics have always shown that more cattle deaths occur through poor biosecurity than caused through bTB. If farmers got their fingers out and concentrated on good husbandry and cleaning up their act, the total of cattle deaths would decrease considerably. I for one, am extremely happy that my subscription to the RSPCA is helping it to fight unnecessary and mass slaughtering of badgers. I am also exremely glad that the RSPCA are at last bringing prosecutions against some of the many Hunts that are hunting illegally. It seems to me that some of my rural neighbours always seek an answer to their problems by slaughtering our wild life, when the answers frequently lie in their own backyards.

    By Kindanimal at 10:31 on 02/12/12

  • Profile image for eyeopener


    Some comments are not worth responding to:

    I will be content to let readers read what I have said, and what you have said, and draw their own conclusions.

    By eyeopener at 16:53 on 18/11/12

  • Profile image for 2ladybugs

    @eyeopener, You are very clearly only ever trying to lay blame at people's doors, never trying to find a solution. I have noticed with most if not all of your comments,that you are always trying to diss people, be they commenters to these pages or the government or the NFU etc, etc, etc. I assume by your arrogance that you think that you are the only person in the entire universe who is right.!!!!!!!

    I don't usually do personal remarks as I find they never achieve anything. Diplomacy is usually the better path to try and take even if it goes against the grain (and in my case being diplomatic to all and sundry is certainly trying my patience,however, persevere I will).

    As I see it your only concern is the badgers, to the detriment of all other living mammals. I may have misinterpreted your comments but reading in TiG, TiS, TiD etc. you seem to swim between trying to run with all your anti-cull friends by being hostile, and on the very "odd" occasion trying to be polite to me. How about trying to use your own intelligence, as you do seem to have some. This problem needs to be sorted. Will you be happy if they found a test that would eventually prove which badgers are carriers and which aren't and if they are found positive would you agree to them being culled?? Actually the same as farmed animals are now.

    By 2ladybugs at 15:00 on 18/11/12

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