Thursday, March 01, 2007

Farmers get the nod...

.. and depending on your point of view, Government shafts responsibility.

THE NFU on line site reports Lord 're-cycled' Rooker's speech to their conference as giving

"the clearest indication yet of how government intends to deal with the reservoir of bovine TB in badgers".

Having read Lord Rooker's speech, it is fair to say that 'government' does not intend to deal with it at all - it wants farmers to do the job. And to facilitate this, the 1997 moratorium on badger culling will be lifted after the final report of the ISG in June, (Do us all a favour John, collect your gong and just go. Now.)
We have described before the cavaliar application of law as far as the licence issue is concerned. And PQ's described the Minister's answer perfectly;

"It is current policy NOT to issue any licenses under sub-section 10(2) (a) to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis, except for animals held in captivity".

(18th March 2004: col 431W [158605]

But no discussion had taken place, no Statutory Instruments laid and in effect, British Law had been 'set aside' courtesy of the ISG. But we digress, that was then and Lord Rooker is now. But has anything changed? Not really. That goverment want rid of bovine TB is a constant, as is the fact that they still are unwilling to take seriously their own responsibilities in its clearance. And Lord Rooker's speech is the clearest indication yet that farmers will be given the green light after the ISG report - whenever that may be - to apply for licenses under Sub Section 10(2)(a)- to prevent the spread of tuberculosis.

While the NFU welcomed the news, they cautioned that any culls must be carried out in the context of a strategy drawn up with the full co-operation of the SVS. And the wildlife teams who advised and carried out such operations?? Err no, they've gone. Defra sacked them - or most of them - last year. Stood down, was the expression used. So 'farmers' are on their own with this one. But possibly clutching a licence to get Defra off a very sharp and costly hook, and to clear a disease which is 100 per cent Defra's responsibility. A disease which has severe implications short term for the country's trading status and long term for the health of all 'mammalian species' - including human beings.


Anonymous said...

Could it be that this is just another delaying tactic - i.e., suggest something that is quite outrageous, or at least can be portrayed as such to the public - letting farmers loose with shotguns to kill pretty little badgers. The reaction - public outrage. Government reacts to public outrage accordingly and hey presto; back to procrastination.

Interesting to note that in Minesota, within a relatively short period of TB being detected, there is a proactive deer culling policy, and in NZ, where they seem likely to ban the use of the poison 1080, bounties are being suggested as an alternative.

A bounty on badgers with a robust way of checking that they were killed humanely and came from target areas rather than non-TB areas would very soon bring levels down far quicker than any other method. It would also be far less costly for the government than using the SVS. Money talks, and there are plenty that have the expertise to reduce badger numbers humanely while making a few quid in the process.

Matthew said...

Yup, you're probably right.
Procrastination was the intention on government's so called 'consultation' last year, and the follow ups given under the guise of 'research' to various universities.

Strange that deer 'management' is welcomed here as well as Minnesota (where the white tailed deer being fed alongside cattle are a bTb transmission opportunity) while management of badger numbers is resisted at all costs. Even and especially when tb levels among them have reached 76 per cent in some areas.

We still seem quite keen to shoot the messengers (cattle) though. Can't think why.