Monday, January 09, 2006

Muckspreader and HRH

Private Eye's Muckspreader points out the dottiness of a Times article by Lord Hattersley suggesting that it was solely owing to Prince Charles that DEFRA now contemplates allowing the culling of diseased badgers as a means to ending the epidemic of TB in Britain’s cattle.

"....What seems to have escaped the attention of the noble lord is, first, as the Treasury is keenly aware, that the cost to taxpayers of the TB epidemic is now rapidly heading for £2 billion..... Second, the evidence quoted to Lord Hattersley by his ‘dissidents’ was only that derived from the ministry’s own notoriously inefficient ‘Krebs trials’. Much more reliable is the Irish evidence that a properly designed cull can cut TB in cattle by as much as 96 percent. What Hatters further omitted to mention was the force of that letter signed by more than 420 vets and scientists.... Not only, they argued, was this the only way to save thousands of farmers and their cattle from disaster. It would also serve the welfare of the diseased badgers themselves, condemned otherwise to a lingering, unpleasant death...." Read in full

(Piece taken from

Muckspreader is quite correct. Defra is under increasing pressure from a Chancellor who has more black holes in his budget than 'The Sky at Night'. But his immediate February target, farmer ' compulsory purchase' monies for the 36 percent increase in cattle slaughtered to October 2005, will only stave off the inevitable for a couple of years. That is because the farmer's share of Defra's beneficial largesse is now less than one third. Testing is another third, and that will continue apace, with the remainder taken up by other totally unecessary Tb costs. Unecessary if the disease was under control, that is. We have asked before whether 600 dead cattle, less than 100 herds under restriction and our country safely able to trade as 'TB free' within OIE rules would have spawned the myriad of job opportunities that 27,700 dead cattle, and 5,300 herds under restriction have.

5.8 per cent of GB herds were under Tb restriction up to January - November 2005. The OIE and EU level for Tb free trading is 0.2 per cent, requiring 99.8 percent of registered herds and 99.9 percent of cattle to have been clear of bTb for 3 consecutive years.

OIE requirements are quoted below.
"To qualify as free from bovine tuberculosis, a country,
zone or compartment should satisfy the following requirements:
bovine tuberculosis is a
notifiable disease in the country;
regular and periodic testing of all cattle and buffalo herds has shown that at least 99.8% of the herds and 99.9% of the animals in the country,
zone or compartment have been found free from bovine tuberculosis for 3 consecutive years;

Defra's November 2005 figures show that of 90,933 herds registered on their Vetnet site, 5,296 were under restriction at some during the reporting period January - November because of a TB incident. As the UK's incidence is over 5.8 percent, and the OIE TB free trading level is 0.2 percent, I think one could confidently say, we do not qualify. In fact on the OIE statistics for TB incidence, we have the dubious honour of being top of the heap. The worst in the world. Just ripe for another Trade ban in fact.

And the beneficiaries of that burgeoning crisis will not be in any hurry to improve the situation.
Their jobs depend upon it.


Anonymous said...

Muck spreaders artical very well written,straight to the point and can be read without distracting from the issue.

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