The Daily Telegraph runs a piece this morning by Charles Clover:
Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary, was accused yesterday of postponing action on bovine TB, Britain's worst animal health problem, until after the last possible date for calling a general election.
Her new strategy for the control of bovine tuberculosis ducked the question of killing infected badgers until 2007 and raised the prospect that farmers would be saddled with the cost of the problem, estimated at £2 billion over the next decade, at some point in the future.
Mrs Beckett, who has been under pressure from farmers to allow the culling of badgers in areas where vets say bovine TB is out of control, did not even turn up at the launch of the long-awaited bovine TB strategy, leaving this announcement to her junior minister, Ben Bradshaw and the chief vet.
The 10-year "vision" document, to which Mrs Beckett wrote the introduction, set out ways of attempting to slow down the spread of the disease into areas currently free of the disease while scientists continue to study how to tackle the problem which affects 20,000 cows a year.
Mr Bradshaw said that results from the Republic of Ireland, as well as the ongoing "Krebs" study of badger infections in dairy farming areas, would be used to work out whether a cull of badgers would be effective.