We believe that the most effective measure to address both sources of infection and cross-infection, subject to strict regulation and meeting a number of requirements, would be a targeted cull of badgers in TB high incidence areas. To take this forward we will prioritise the establishment of an intensive action pilot in an area which has been identified as a TB hotspot. No final decision has yet been made about a location capable of satisfying these criteria but I anticipate it would be in a defined high incidence area for the disease and subject to strict conditions. Additional areas will not be considered until the implementation and robust review and a proper evaluation of the cull and the other measures in the intensive action pilot area has been undertaken.
'Strict regulation and meeting of requirements' sounds suspiciously like a number of
The paper continues:
Action by government alone will not eradicate bovine TB. I want to reform the compensation regime to encourage herd owners to follow best practice. By the end of 2008 plans will be published to amend the current system to ensure compensation arrangements encourage herd owners to comply with legal and best practice requirements. I will also take action to further address the concerns about the abuse to the TB compensation system as highlighted by the report of the National Audit Office in 2003.
That sounds like tabular valuations are on the way, and any compulsory purchase monies will be dependent upon an assessor's opinion of a farm's biosecurity. But the really big 'devil' is in the final sentence of this next paragraph.
We will also be taking forward other measures such as the development and promotion of improved husbandry and biosecurity practices to make sure that cattle owners know what to do to reduce the risk of the introduction of the disease onto their farms, or to manage existing disease. This will include from 2009 the publication of infected farms and the compensation paid.
So, publication of the farms under Tb restriction. A death knell to a pedigree breeder selling bulls or top notch breeding females? So, it looks to us like the Welsh Assembly have used a very big stick of possibly reduced compulsory purchase monies which will be totally dependent upon increased biosecurity and the threat of the publicity of both, should infected stripeys break through the cordon.
Like our own beloved Defra, the Welsh Assembly speak of 'partnership' but are more than willing to use any means possible to beat the industry into submission, in this instance over a situation not of their making, nor under their control. Defra used the tabular valuation paperwork in England to obtain a farmer's signature prior to slaughter of a reactor and knowledge of amount of compulsory purchase monies paid, and it looks very much as if the Assembly will follow suit. Even to the extent of 'no signature means no payment at all, and if you sign it will be published'. A very unequal partnership we think, and at a time when many farmers are pushed to the brink of emotional overload by the restrictions imposed by a Tb breakdown.
It would seem to us that the various sides (and there should be only one) in this debate are posturing through the motions. The Badger Trust rocking their pram and throwing out unsubstantiated, emotional rubbish at a gullible public, and the farming unions playing along with what may turn out to be an unworkable political mishmash in the hope of implanting a backbone into the wavering frame of our own Hilary Benn.
A link to the Welsh Assembly full statement (pdf) is here.