in REPLY to Kate Fowler, Animal Aid (Oxford Mail, August 31) there’s no reason to boycott milk.
Kate Fowler gives the impression that dairy farmers have no regard for animal welfare and are to blame for the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB). These are wild, unjust and ill-founded accusations.
Cattle farmers recognise that healthy animals are productive and farms are rigorously inspected on standards of animal welfare.
Breaches of the regulations lead to hefty penalties and farms can be closed down.
The vast majority of UK dairy cows do not spend their lives ‘incarcerated’ – they enjoy summer grazing and are only housed during the colder months.
Both milk producers and beef producers are affected by the long-term epidemic of bovine TB.
Successive governments have been trying to eradicate the disease as it has implications for animal health, human health and food security.
bTB has escalated sevenfold in a decade with 32,000 cattle slaughtered in England and Wales in 2010.
Cattle controls alone aren’t working and scientists agree the badger is a reservoir of infection.
The Government considered this issue very carefully before announcing that it is minded to go ahead with a badger control policy.
There are no effective vaccines to protect cattle from the disease or to prevent badgers from spreading bTB.
If we wait until vaccines are available, this disease will be even further out of control and will take longer to eradicate.
When the situation is explained properly to ordinary people, they begin to understand what cattle farmers are up against.
And there is absolutely no reason to boycott British dairy products.
ISOBEL BRETHERTON NFU South East Rotherbrook Court Petersfield Hampshire