The way the government is handling bovine tuberculosis is "fast becoming a national disgrace", the NFU has warned.

A record 25,000 cattle were slaughtered in the first 11 months of 2007, a figure NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond has described as "a spreadsheet of suffering."

New Defra statistics indicated there were 3,711 new herd outbreaks in Britain to the end of November, compared with 3,673, the previous record, set in 2005.

Defra secretary of state Hilary Benn came under fire at the Oxford Farming Conference over bovine TB but has resisted calls to cull badgers.

"While Hilary Benn shilly-shallies, TB is spreading across England and Wales," said Raymond. "The situation is fast becoming a national disgrace and the government has run out of excuses for sitting on its hands. Advice from the outgoing chief scientist was clear: TB in the badger population must be tackled to turn the tide of disease."

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