This week I was made aware of a blog by farmer David Barton. He has written a heartfelt account about his beloved bull Ernie, being shot and removed along with three cows after they had tested positive for bovine TB.
David invited us to his farm to video the tragic events unfolding. The result is an emotionally charged yet shocking video. We make no apologies for that. This is the distressing reality that farmers like David are having to face as bovine TB continues to devastate farming families across large parts of the country.
This is an extract from Farmer David Barton - A Gloucestershire farmer living with the realities of bovine TB.
"This is one of the most distressing experiences of my farming life.
"I don't have facilities for slaughtering my own animals on the farm so an unbearable time was spent waiting for the first - a beautiful young heifer - to get into the correct position.
"I can't watch....the BANG, when it finally comes, is piercing and final. The other cows know exactly what has happened and what is about to happen.
"Next is Hugo. With her huge doe-like eyes she looks at me and knows. The cow with the baby calf is becoming fractious and aggressive. She can smell blood and cordite. As she is becoming so wild, she is shot with a single bullet from a rifle. A perfect shot finally breaking the tension.
"I feel sick to the bottom of my stomach and I can hardly make my legs take me to Ernie. The gentle giant. Loved by all. He trusts me and I know I am about to betray that trust. I put his barley down for his usual feed. But this is not usual. The marksman steps up and the bang echoes out. The finality is over-bearing. I have to leave."
Many farmers in areas where TB is endemic in the wildlife population are rapidly losing all hope for the future because they are powerless to stop the spread of this disease, no matter what they do.
Our message is clear - this cannot go on. Wildlife controls are an integral part of the government's 25-year TB eradication strategy and the NFU remains committed to doing everything it can to find a way forward for the current policy.