Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told farmers at the National Farmers' Union conference in Birmingham that he was committed to making sure the pilots went ahead.
He said tackling bovine TB had cost the taxpayer £500 million in the past 10 years, and costs could reach £1 billion over the next decade if the disease was left unchecked.
He said that research in the UK had shown that culling badgers, which can transmit TB to cattle, could reduce the levels of the disease in herds, and that Britain had to learn from experience elsewhere that tuberculosis could not effectively be curbed without tackling the problem in wildlife.
He said he wanted to see effective and affordable vaccines deployed for both cattle and badgers as quickly as possible but it was likely to take another decade before the deployment of a cattle vaccine which is validated and legal under EU regulations could take place.
Mr Paterson said: ''Bovine TB is spreading at an alarming rate and causing real devastation to our beef and dairy industry. ''
He said Natural England issued authorisation letters which confirmed culling could proceed this summer, as an important step towards taking the action needed to tackle the spread of TB in wildlife.
"I am determined that there are no further delays this year. That is why we have taken the sensible step with the farming industry to elect a reserve area that can be called upon should anything happen to prevent culling in Somerset or Gloucester.
"These pilot culls are just one part of our approach to control and eradicate this dreadful disease."
The move was welcomed by National Farmers' Union president Peter Kendall who said it would have been easy for the Environment Secretary to let TB slip down the list of priorities after last year's delay.
He backed Mr Paterson for working to ensure that the pilots were up and running this summer and that there would be a full roll-out of the cull next year.
The move was criticised by Labour, which has consistently opposed a badger cull.
Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said: "The Government is pressing ahead with a badger cull despite 150 000 people signing a petition against it last year and scientists warning against this 'untested and risky approach'
After service in the British SAS Regiment the author became a physician and then an orthopaedic surgeon.
He has held professorial positions in Canada, Vietnam and the United States, practiced and taught orthopaedic surgery in three continents and in several wars.
He has extensive experience as an expert witness in court. Somewhere along the way, time was found to operate a four hundred acre mixed farm, a one hundred seat restaurant and to obtain a licence as a flying instructor.
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