The FUW (Farmers union of Wales)today welcomed a decision by badger campaigners Pembrokeshire Against the Cull (PAC) not to repeat misleading claims in a leaflet distributed to homes in the county and published on the internet.
The decision comes after a complaint by the FUW triggered an eight-month investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). PAC has since agreed not to repeat the advertisement and to amend problematic claims in line with the ASA’s Advertising Code.
FUW TB spokesman Brian Walters described the decision as a “welcome U-turn”. He added: “It is unfortunate that it took an eight-month investigation and the publication of a draft ruling by the ASA for PAC to finally cave in and admit that they published misleading claims, but we are glad they have finally conceded.
“PAC’s decision to accept they were wrong means the ASA has allowed the complaint to be closed informally, saving PAC the embarrassment of being ruled against in a formal adjudication.”
The original leaflet - which has now been removed from PAC’s website - claimed that "2 ½ years after the [badger] cull finishes, this benefit [the reduction of bTB] disappears"; that "WAG’s cattle measures are inadequate, and it has signally [sic] failed to address the most important route of infection, cattle-to-cattle"; that "there are no plans to control the movement of cattle within, into or out of the [north Pembrokeshire culling] area based on TB risk"; and that "Vaccination will help with TB eradication, culling will not".
“The FUW provided scientific evidence demonstrating why these statements breached Committee of Advertising Practice Code clauses on Truthfulness and Substantiation,” said Mr Walters.
“The ASA agreed with us, and PAC has now been forced to admit they were wrong. This gives out a clear message to politicians and the public that messages issued by single issue groups established to protect badgers need to be taken with a massive pinch of salt.
Pembrokeshire Against the Cull is a newly established organisation with only one objective, and as far as I am aware they were previously indifferent to the nightmare TB epidemic which has faced Pembrokeshire farmers for decades.
Conversely, the Farmers’ Union of Wales has been involved in the science of bTB for more than 50 years, and our views have been established following careful gathering and consideration of all the scientific evidence over a period of decades.
We don’t want to see either badgers or cattle being culled, but when you are faced with a massive disease epidemic in both animals you have to take action.”