Sir: In response to Dominic Dyer (Third Party, 6 April), the Soil Association’s position on TB and cattle is, first, that the top priority must be to develop vaccines that will protect cattle and wildlife.
More attention must also be paid to increasing the positive health of cattle through more humane management, so they are better able to resist TB and other diseases.
It would not make sense for consumers to stop buying organic if they disagree with badger culling, when independent reviews have shown no other system of farming has higher animal welfare standards, and government studies have shown organic farms have up to 50% more wildlife.
The science surrounding the issue of badger culling is still contested. Farmers licensed by the Soil Association, the experts we work with and our supporters all have different views. As far as farmers licensed by the Soil Association are concerned, our standards cover all aspects of production, but not other things that happen on farms such as public access or controlling populations of animals like rats, rabbits, foxes or deer.
We will not be making changes to our certification standards and decisions on whether to allow badgers to be culled on their land is something individual organic farmers will need to decide.
Helen Browning, CEO, Soil Association