The The Daily Telegraph reports today that a general cull of badgers irrespective of whether they or cattle have been found locally to have tuberculosis will be put to ministers today.
This is the most radical of a series of proposals for tackling the growing epidemic of bovine TB that will be published by the National Farmers' Union at the opening of the Royal Show in Stoneleigh, Warwicks, today.
Farmers are alarmed by the spread of the disease, which has led to movement restrictions being placed on 6,000 herds this year, most of them in the South-West. About 10,000 cows were slaughtered between January and April, 3,000 more than last year. It is estimated that the Government's slaughter policy will cost £2 billion in the next decade.
Farmers' leaders are expected to threaten to boycott Labour's strategy for improving farm animal welfare if it does not lift its moratorium on licences to kill badgers in TB hotspots.
Today's NFU report details how a successful eradication programme of the main disease carrier, the possum, is dealing with the problem of bovine TB in New Zealand.
Meurig Raymond, the vice-chairman of the NFU, said: "There are certain areas of the countryside where we do need radical solutions."
But Dr Elaine King, of the National Federation of Badger Groups said: "It is not going to work because it is not backed by the science. There is clear evidence that the vast majority of TB outbreaks result from cattle movements."