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Northern Ireland considering culling badgers
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£4 million research programme to be commissioned

Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill has responded to recent criticism from the Ulster Farmer's Union (UFU) of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (DARD) policy on badger culling as a means of countering the spread of bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) by confirming that controlling the disease is a 'key priority'.

Ms O'Neill stated that “We are investing around £4million to commission a programme of TB and wildlife research and studies towards the ultimate aim of eradicating TB in cattle. We will use the evidence produced by this programme to inform a comprehensive approach that deals with all aspects of TB and will help to reduce the level of disease in cattle.”

“We already have a rigorous EU Commission approved eradication programme in place. We also need to build a sound evidence base to underpin further interventions in cattle and/or wildlife that could help to reduce TB as part of our eradication programme.” the Minister added.

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First Milk overhauls pricing system for farmers

Dairy company First Milk is set to change its milk pricing system for farmers, in response to recent volatility in the commodity markets. The changes will include the introduction of A and B pricing from April 1, 2015.

First Milk chairman Sir Jim Paice MP said rapidly falling milk prices last year "seriously challenged the mechanisms we used to set the price of milk". Challenges included a time delay between the company making an announcement about milk pricing, and the change actually coming into effect, while the markets are moving at a fast pace.