In a positively bizarre stroke, this week it has come to our attention that the 'Thought Police' have descended on our very own Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). A circular instruction has been issued to all staff, which will filter from DVMs right down to local vets holding LVI status that regardless what the announcement from on high is, they must 'support it'. Unconditionally, unquestioningly and wholeheartedly.
We understand that the instruction is quite explicit in that all Animal Health staff who come into contact with 'customers' either by phone or in person, will not be expected to offer any disagreement with Defras's yet-to-announced-position, at any stage of the communication process.
So farmers are now relabelled 'customers'? Supermarkets have 'customers', and 'customers' have a choice. They can go next door if they don't like the product. This is a Government Department with responsibilities it prefers to shirk, but more importantly no alternative source for its 'customers'. But we digress. Just what is the impending anouncement about which the staff of Animal Health must not speak, think unpositive thoughts or utter anything other than unconditional support for?
The future Governemnt strategy for TB control, and the roll - if any - of badger culling of course.
A strategy of any sort would be an improvement on the last twenty years. During that time MAFF, now rebranded Defra, have twisted every which way to avoid their statutory responsibility, which is to have a positive eradication policy for bovine tuberculosis. Culling ever more cattle just doesn't cut it, while infected badgers are awarded cult status and their ancestral home, a Grade 1 listing.
Aghast at the return to the type of jackboot mentality which crushed rational thought and behaviour in the last century, Farmers Guardian has the story.
May one assume that the 400 LVI vets who signed a letter to the Chief Veterinary Officer in 2005, expressing deep concern about lack of government policy on BTb are equally willing to obey 'his masters voice' - whatever that may say?
Their letter ended with the scathing observation that forty years ago, a government feeling its way into a policy on bTb was "understandable". But given the accumulated knowledge acquired over decades, which they outlined in the letter they describe it now as "incomprehensible".
And Defra would appear to intend it stays that way. Heil, mein Fuhrer. Heil Hilary...