A TIVERTON dairy farmer who claims his herd has been infected by badgers, costing him hundreds of thousands of pounds, this week condemned the Government for refusing to launch a cull.

David Partridge, who owns 330 pedigree milking cows among his total stock of 970, says his ‘closed herd’ was free of bovine TB until six and a half years ago.

Mr Partridge, 60, said: “My herds were TB- free until six-and-a-half half years ago – a year after I found a dying badger in my field.

“Since then we have continued to have problems. We are required to have a test every 60 days and at our last test in April we lost 33 breeding cattle.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we need a cull. We don’t buy in other cattle from anywhere else so there is no chance of infec tions from outside the farm.”

Mr Partridge, who runs Ennerleigh Farm at Washfield, has also taken out a test case with the backing of the National Farmers Union over compensation levels.

He went to the High Court for two days in June and a decision is expect ed soon.

NFU president Peter Kendall this week roundly denounced Secretary of State’s Hilary Benn’s refusal to cull badgers as part of a TB control pro gramme despite his admission that a cull “might work” in his statement to the House of Commons on Monday.

“To admit that a cull might work, and then push the already crippling burden of TB controls further onto the farming industry is plain wrong.

“It is ridiculous to expect farmers to continue fighting TB with one hand tied behind their back.”

Tiverton MP Angela Browning said: “I am pretty disgusted with the way the Government has dealt with this. I think for political reasons they have flunked this.

“Farmers are very angry. The cost and worry of keeping their herds free of TB has a huge impact on them.”