Countryfile presenter Adam Henson has received death threats against him and his family after investigating the culling of badgers.
Adam Henson with Kate Humble
Animal rights extremists threatened to BURN his children after he presented a report into the issue of bovine tuberculosis and a possible badger cull.
Mr Henson, 45, said the abuse is totally unjustified as the report was balanced and unbiased.
He told a farmer’s conference in St Mellion, Cornwall: ”There are some very nasty extremists about.
”I have had some serious hate letters from them – things like ‘we are going to burn your children’.”
Mr Henson, who has presented Countryfile for the last ten years, started receiving abuse after the programme was broadcast last September.
He was reporting on proposed plans to cull 70 per cent of all badgers in disease hotspots – a plan expected to be announced by the Government within the next few weeks.
Because of the issue, conservation groups and farmers were ‘at war’ with each other, when they should be working together to solve the problem, he said.
Mr Henson, who farms at Cotswold Farm Park, near Cheltenham, Glos., was speaking at the ‘Securing the Future of Farming’ conference at the St Mellion International Resort in Cornwall on Thursday May 5.
He told the 185 delegates that the report was balanced on both sides of the argument and met BBC guidelines.
He said: ”These guidelines are very strict. So you will never hear me saying we should be culling badgers. My hands are completely tied on the issue.
”I cannot campaign for anything at all I simply report what is said on both sides.
”Badgers are fantastic animals to watch and can be a great asset, and there should be middle ground between farming and conservationists on tackling the bovine TB problem.”
Mr Henson lives with his partner Charlie Gilbert, and has two children Alfie, nine, and Ella, 13.
He joined Countryfile in 2001 providing regular reports from his own farm on the topical and practical challenges he faces.
He is widely regarded as an ambassador for British farming with his attendance at practically all of the major farming and countryside events and, last year, was presented with the 2010 Farmers’ Weekly Farming Champion of the Year award.
With his business partner, Duncan Andrews, he farms around 3,000 acres, growing mainly wheat, oil-seed rape and spring barley.
He also plays an active role in the work of The Rare Breeds Survival Trust and has some of the rarest agricultural breeds at his Cotswold Farm Park which attracts over 70,000 visitors a year.
Bovine tuberculosis is believed to be transmitted to cows by breathing in the bacteria from other animals such as badgers – 38,000 cows died from the disease last year.
Mel Squires, regional director of the National Farmers’ Union in the South West, also spoke at the conference.
She said: ”We are expecting the Government to take some really brave steps.
”They have said they are going to support us. If they don’t they are going to leave the cattle industry in real distress.”
She also urged people to contact their MPs and keep up the pressure for a solution to the TB ‘scourge’.
In Wales, where the Welsh Assembly has ordered a cull, the Badger Trust has distanced itself from threats by the Animal Liberation Front that it will tear down farmer’s fences and damage agricultural buildings.
The trust said it ”dissociates itself from any proposals to use force or intimidation towards anyone carrying out trapping, shooting or any other procedures that may be officially approved.”