Never ones to mince words, we are nevertheless honest on this blog and when we get things wrong - hey, we can hold our hands up and say so.
So apologies from the team to Captain Ben and his cohorts at Defra.
What did we get wrong? On the post which highlighted the futility of pre movement testing (See To Test or not to Test - below) we estimated the cattle reactors missed by this exercise in Ministerial window dressing, at around 60 percent, given the latency of the test, and all other proposed cattle exclusions from it. Today however in launching the concept on the press, our Ben while committing Defra to the idea, told reporters that:
"it would reduce the number of outbreaks by 720 per year - about one-fifth".
One fifth? 20 percent? What about the other 80 percent??
So dear readers, having geared up our calculaters to inform you that pre movement testing would miss around 60 percent of the cattle reactors, we bow to Ben's superior mathmatics.
If the man says it will reduce new oubreaks by just 20 percent- and he assures us it will - then we apologise, we are contrite and repentant. It will not miss 60 percent at all, it will miss 80 percent of cattle reactors. The Minister says so. It will also cost an average of £9 per animal, for which the industry is expected to pay, with Defra providing the tuberculin (25p). It will cost the industry almost £3million, but Defra expect it save the taxpayer £10 million.
Using Ben's figures, if the tuberculosis problem was tackled 'in the round' it would save the taxpayer another £40 million, but we're not supposed to have worked that out..
How many 'schools'n'hospitals' is that?
Chief Veterinary Officer, Debbie Reynolds said:" Cattle farmers do not need to wait until Government makes movement testing compulsory. Farmers should take steps now to reduce the risk of spreading Tb".
Quite right. And if they have taken those steps - and they have not worked, farmers are entitled to feel seriously let down by the very Department empowered with the responsibility for 'disease control' are they not? And for those who have purchased cattle tested in line with the Chief Vet's advice, and find that the pre movement test will, in her own Minister's words have missed 80 percent of potential reactors? What then?
She's going to have some very difficult questions to answer.