BADGERS in Oxfordshire are to be vaccinated against Bovine TB to create a “buffer zone” against the disease.

The vaccination programme has been announced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with the aim of preventing the disease from spreading to cattle outside the South West and West Midlands. The move follows controversial culling of badger populations in parts of the South West, which failed to meet targets.

Farming Minister George Eustice said: “Bovine TB continues to be a huge threat to our beef and dairy farmers, our economy and our food security, which is why we are pursuing a comprehensive strategy to beat it.

“As part of this, I want to see vaccination groups come together, building on prior experience to deliver badger vaccination in the edge area. This could be an important part of our collective efforts, to prevent the spread of this terrible disease.”

The so-called “edge area” covers Oxfordshire, Cheshire, Leicestershire and Hampshire.

In July the Oxford Mail revealed that 63 herds affected in March.

Somerton beef farmer Jeremy Brown said: “It completely screws up your farm. It’s hopeless and I’m not prepared to do it any more.

“This could be going on in 10 years, are we ever going to get on top of this?”

Under the programme, vaccination schemes can apply for funding towards up to half the long-term costs of vaccination, free loans of equipment, and free vaccine supply.

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