Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wildlife Management - OIE

In a well constructed editorial which highlights the interaction of wildlife with domestic or farmed species, and thus offers opportunity for disease transmission, Bernard Vallatt, Director General of the OIE (Office des Internationale Epizootics) sees 'management' of such reservoirs as essential. The full piece can be read here.
"The role played by wildlife in the world epidemiological situation is widely demonstrated. We also know that animals in the wild are both targets of and a reservoir for pathogens capable of infecting domestic animals and humans. Infections with tuberculosis, Nipah virus or Ebola virus, to name but a few, regularly afflict domestic animals and humans alike, and each of these events sounds a shrill alarm on the need for better monitoring of wild animal health and the source of wildlife diseases."
That would be a 'shrill alarm' to everyone except Defra's high level lobby fodder puppets one assumes? The paper continues:
... it is important to control the demography of such populations which can also serve as highly effective disease reservoirs for numerous pathogens. In this respect, the OIE is seeking to develop standards for the humane control of these undesirable categories of animal populations where necessary.

The vehicle for surveillance and management is the State Veterinary Service of countries, an organisation which has received scant support over decades from our governments - except of course the recent gagging order from Defra's very own 'thought police'.
There is clearly a duty to manage wildlife diseases. We must maintain biological diversity, improve our knowledge of the health status of all animal populations and prevent species at risk from disappearing, while protecting human and domestic animal populations from the introduction of diseases. This relies mainly on the Veterinary Services. A technically competent, adequately resourced Veterinary Service is needed, working with other regulatory authorities and with non governmental organisations (NGOs) in a cooperative constructive manner. This also requires political will and the dedication of the necessary resources for the implementation of programmes and scientific research. Furthermore, the efficiency of Veterinary Services in this field will be increased by various mechanisms of alliances and collaboration with agencies in charge of wildlife protection and hunting policies, and with NGOs working on the same topics. Alliances with hunters' organisations are very useful and important for the surveillance and early detection of wildlife diseases. These alliances are also useful for managing undesirable animal populations.

M. Vallatt concludes "wildlife diseases will not solve themselves". But in the Alice in Wonderland world of Defra, our own State Veterinary Service - now relabelled Animal Health - has been down-sized, demoralised, starved of cash and bullied into submission. Not an ideal way to form 'constructive partnerships' perhaps. And certainly not the way to halt the onward march of tuberculosis.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Up one entry...

... and down another. Or in this case a badger sett - or rather an artificiallly created tunnel, above ground. We are gratefully to Trevor, Mr. Lawson of Badger Trust fame for pointing out that Defra have (allegedly) said:
" It was impossible to develop a reliable model for predicting whether humane concentrations of carbon monoxide gas could be achieved in a badger sett [4].
Please keep a close eye on that piece of verbal gymnastics - a single sentence from just one (of many) very long pdf file - as we summarise the work done in 2005/2006 by both Defra with one set of artificial sandcastles, or Porton Down with their very own bucket and spades .

Both were looking at reaching an optimum level of 1 percent concentration of carbon monoxide (CO) for long enough to euthanise the tunnel occupants without any visble side effects. Both used (different) models to predict concentrations, and a number of 'assumptions' were made in order to construct the model. Neither factored in animal movement, and thus movement of air / gas within the chambers.
In Defra's paper (No 2 on the list)
Target concentrations were exceeded 13m from the entrance in all trials and sustained for 24 hours when tunnel entrances were blocked - in all conditions. The trials achieved concentrations of CO thought to be sufficient to kill badgers.
Porton Down repeated this exercise in paper 4 with the same results. They may even have used the same delivery vehicle. Defra appear to have located an 18 year old Rangy 3.5l petrol automatic, which they are at pains to point out would have failed its MOT on emmissions and couldn't be transported legally on the public highway. Did it have a SORN declaration, one wonders? They continue:
"In all four trials CO concentration exceeded 3 percent after 60 - 80 minutes, and stayed above 1 per cent for at least 60 minutes in all trials. When all entrances were closed, CO levels were still above 1 percent after 24 hours. Levels were maintained after the engine was switched off.
In paper 3, Porton Down had another go, but their model told them that within a complicated sett system, the CO left dead spots. When they repeated Defra's number 2 'trial' - possibly with the same old Rangy (one would hope the taxpayer didn't fund two) they achieved similar results in all conditions of wind speed and soil porosity.

In paper 5 (2006) Defra had a blast with a portable generator - presumably the Rangy 3.5l automatic had eventually died. They had its portable replacement de-tuned to deliver levels of CO greater than its 4 wheeled predecessor and in a series of trials, all exceeded the target delivery of 1 percent concentration of CO for at least one hour.

In paper 8, Defra were looking at soil porosity and had mixed results until somone suggested they seal the entrance hole around the delivery pipe. When this was done, all trials revealed CO (Carbon monoxide) exceeding the 1 percent concentration on all models. In one test Miracle-Gro was used to mimic large soil particle size (2.36 - 2.80mm) and we had visions of an artic load.... However from the accompanying illustration, this experiment was done in a test tube, so enough for Defra's window box perhaps, rather than 'gardening leave'.

They tried GPR to map actual setts and see if CO worked underground as well as in the above ground tunnels sandcastles they'd built. But it failed to map and the two computer models were at logger heads. So Defra's conclusion of this work is more than interesting. As is its comparison with the Badger Trust statement we quoted above. In the overview paper published July 2008 which summarises all the work with CO done in 2005/2006, Defra say of the computer model log-jam:
"however by this stage of research two other viable culling techniques had been identified and further work on fumigation [with CO] had been suspended.
And this is the bit Trevor missed
"Although significant additional work would still be required to demonstrate the efficacy and humaneness of CO fumigation in the field (including regulatory approval) the most recent work suggests that development of a CDF model to predict gas flow within badger setts could be achievable. Defra July 2008"

If you have a spare three hours, all the papers can be seen here. Most indicate time pressure to deliver, and, as we've come to expect from the passengers on this miserable but highly beneficial gravy train, request 'more research' to confirm their findings.

Golden Guernseys

The label attached to micobacterium bovis is proving very wide of the mark. We have had comments of the site, reminding us that 'bovis' means cattle and thus the disease must be primarily a disease confined to cattle. This is 'unfortunate' (in politocospeke) and totally misses the point; which is that bTB is a zoonosis affecting many species. And, as we said before, the single most sensible thing baby-Ben Bradshaw did during his tenure astride Defra's fence, was to make it notifiable in all mammalian species. This means Defra picks up the tab for postmortems and VLA log results.

As well as many tens of domestic moggies, a handful of pet dogs, free range pigs, camelids and a few sheep, the latest spillover has appeared in goats. Specifically - this time - in a breed of very rare Golden Guernsey goats, which had the misfortune to co-habit the pastures of West Wales where sentinel tested cattle in the area are showing big problems, and RTA badgers also badly infected. More on the story from BBC Wales
"The disease was discovered in some rare golden Guernsey goats which were being sold by a Carmarthenshire breeder. Nick Clayton of The Goat Veterinary Society said the outbreak had come as a "complete shock" to the industry and "it was only the second of its type in more than 50 years".
Twenty-two goats have been culled and 20 had lesions typically associated with the effects of TB. Bovine TB was diagnosed in a small number of goats in England 12 months ago, but it is not clear at present if that is linked to the latest scare.

However, a "significant portion" of the rare golden Guernsey breed was now at risk, Mr. Clayton said.

Mr Clayton added. "Six herds dotted around England and Wales have been tested now and a few cases have been found". Tracing of contacts is ongoing we understand, and this weeks' Vet. Record carries a summary of the problem thus far.

"Reports of caprine TB have been very rare in the UK since the introduction of a mandatory TB testing and slaughter scheme for cattle herds in the 1950s. However, the extent of the current outbreak illustrates that goats are susceptible to M bovis infection and TB should be considered as a differential diagnosis in goats with respiratory signs and weight loss, particularly if kept in regions of high bovine TB incidence.
As a result of Bradshaw's notification instruction, one goat from the Welsh farm was submitted for postmortem in June 2008. Results revealed two large lesions, and multiple smaller lesions in the lungs. Culture from the lesions identified M bovis spoligo type SB0140 (VLA type 9). (VLA mapping shows 20 percent of outbreaks in Dyfed are found to share this spoligotype, and it is found in 44 percent of outbreaks in Devon / Cornwall.)
The remaining goats in the herd were tested using the intradermal comparative tuberculin test. Thirteen of 20 animals tested were disclosed as reactors using the standard bovine interpretation. Postmortem examination of these goats at the VLA showed gross lesions similar to the first case in all but one of the reactors. Four other nonreactor goats, slaughtered as dangerous contacts, did not show any gross tuberculous lesions at postmortem examination. Three goats with negative test reactions, all belonging to a separate management group, remain on the holding.

The goats on the holding showed anorexia, particularly refusing concentrate food, a sometimes precipitous fall in milk production, a chronic intermittent cough and sometimes loss of weight. Pulmonary lesions were the most obvious pathological sign on postmortem examination. Lesions in the bronchial, mediastinal, and mesenteric lymph nodes were more caseous, sometimes with 'gritty' calcification. Lesions have also been seen in the retropharyngeal lymph nodes, liver, spleen and udder.
The most likely source of infection for the herd appears to be the movement in May 2007 of three golden Guernsey goats from another herd in west Wales that was dispersed last April. Tracings from these two herds are being investigated by Animal Health and include goats moved to other holdings in England and Wales. At the time of writing, tracings involve 20 destination herds in 13 different counties of England and Wales. To date this has revealed a further eight herds with skin test reactor golden Guernsey goats presenting with tuberculous lesions at slaughter. Mycobacterial cultures on tissues from these goats are in progress.

The report concludes:
This outbreak has shown that goats can be very susceptible to M bovis infection and that the within-herd prevalence of infection can be high. It also highlights the importance of considering the risk of the introduction of M bovis infection when moving animals between herds and the potential consequences of failing to do so.
The positive predictive value of tuberculin skin tests performed so far on the at-risk goats has been very high.

The authors remind veterinary practioners that they should be consider TB when investigating goats with chronic respiratory disease and weight loss, and goats that die or are euthanased should undergo postmortem examination. [That warning applies to any 'mammal' - ed] However, skin testing goats is not mandatory, and any veterinary surgeon undertaking skin testing of goats must seek prior permission from the DVM and notify Animal Health of the results.

And as it appears to work well on goats, the skin test should be considered as part of a regular testing regime, we think. We understand that Wales is considering this route. If however the wildlife maintenance reservoir of disease is not tackled simultaneously, then goat keepers will find themselves in the same position as cattle farmers. A heap of dead animals - and no nearer to clearing the problem.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

EFRAcom response to Benn - 'Not good enough'

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee has responded to Secretary of State, Hilary Benn's cop-out announcement, with their own verbal broadside,
We concluded that the Government's current method of controlling cattle TB, that of surveillance, testing and slaughter, was not working effectively.
... a severe understatement, we think. EFRAcom quote the government's own figures for disease incidence:
. Our Report considered that cattle TB was one of the most serious animal health problems in Great Britain today, with the number of infected cattle doubling every four and a half years. The consequential growing cost of the disease to the taxpayer and to the farming industry was unsustainable. In "hot spot" areas where the prevalence of the disease was highest, the farming industry had reached a breaking point as the disruption to business in both human and economic terms had become unacceptable. The final straw for many farmers had proved to be the introduction of a new system of valuations for their slaughtered of TB incidence cattle which had proved inequitable in many cases.
And on badger culling, in response to confirmed cattle TB outbreaks...
We also recognised that under certain well-defined circumstances it was possible that badger culling could make a contribution towards the reduction in incidence of the disease in hot spot areas. However, we acknowledged that badger culling alone would never provide a universal solution to the problem of cattle TB.
... it did at Thornbury.
"The fundamental difference between the Thornbury area and other areas in south west England, where bovine tuberculosis was a problem was the systematic removal of badgers from the Thornbury area. No other species was removed. no other contemporaneous change was identified that could have accounted for the reduction in TB incidence within the area." [157949] 24th March 2004. Col. 824W

Reduction? Another understatement. NO cases of TB in cattle were found in the ten years after gassing ceased at Thornbury, and badger numbers had recovered to pre-cull levels.
6. We are extremely disappointed that the response was so tentative in many areas. It also appears to play down the serious nature of this disease, asserting that the problem is a regional one, that the Government's cattle TB policies are working effectively, and that the position is not as "bleak" as our Report suggested. We note that PSA 9 (adopted in 2004) set a target for Defra to reduce the spread of cattle TB to new parishes to below the incremental trend of 17.5 confirmed new incidents per annum by the end of 2008, but not a target for the reduction of TB in existing hot spot areas or overall. The Departmental Annual Report 2008 says that the Department is "on course" for meeting its targets for limiting the spread of cattle TB to areas currently free from the disease. Whilst this might explain the optimism contained in the Government response, the statistics for incidence of cattle TB in 2007 show that the number of herd breakdowns is still increasing.

Now, when a politician says he is 'disappointed', it is politicospeke for bloody frustrated, angry and downright disgusted that committee advice has not been heeded. In this case the adjective 'extremely' has been added, thus giving emphasis to EFRAcom's 'disappointment'.
7. The Government is unwise to have put all its eggs in one basket and to have chosen to focus its energies and funding on the long-term goal of developing cattle and badger vaccines when it is unlikely that a badger vaccine will be available before 2014 and a cattle vaccine before 2015. The response indicates that there is little in the Government's strategy, beyond the current policy of surveillance, testing and slaughter, to tackle the disease in the short-term. This is not good enough — it fails to recognise fully the seriousness of the situation.

Couldn't agree more, but for any disease 'strategy', governement requires the co-operation of its farmers. And that Defra has patently lost.
... Defra's plans for partnership with farmers on the issue of animal disease control appear to be in disarray as the farming industry has walked away from current discussions on responsibility and cost-sharing.[2] This will surely have serious consequences for the credibility of the Government's plans for a Bovine TB Partnership Group to discuss cattle-based measures with the industry.

From vaccines to bio-security, badger culling to the widespread use of gammaIFN, compensation levels and farmer co-operation, it would appear EFRAcom are far from happy with the minister's response. Having described his response variously as 'tentative', 'unwise', 'not good enough' and too reliant on woolly future events, the committee have 'invited' him to appear to give oral evidence to support his non-decisions.
We ask Defra to respond to the points raised in this report. We will also be asking the Secretary of State to give oral evidence on his response to our original Report.
While EFRAcom (and others) are making the case for 'cattle measures' we will remind readers of their total failure (and continuing failure) when used in isolation. And when politicians talk of 'reducing the spread' of TB they totally misunderstand that the disease is NOT spread by cattle movements. A point well understood, by Lord Rooker, who had taken the time to study VLA's painstakingly constructed spoligotype maps.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

VAWM response to Benn's statement

We have received from the Veterinary Association for Wildlife Management, their response to Hilary Benn's 'no-cull' decision, which we quote in full. We can't add to the sentiment or the content, both of which speak eloquently for themselves.
"DEFRA cops out on controlling bovine TB - July 2008

Predictably, coming as it does from this feeble Government, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Mr. Hilary Benn, announced on Monday, July 7, 2008 that DEFRA will continue to pursue the policies that have, over the last decade, led to a tenfold increase in bovine tuberculosis in cattle. In spite of statements by the Chief Scientist, Sir David King last October and the more recent report in April by the Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs Committee of the House of Commons that the wildlife reservoir of bovine TB, namely badgers, will have to be culled in order to control the disease, DEFRA have stuck their heads firmly back in the sand in the hope that the situation will get better if they just go on killing more and more cattle (some 28,000 in 2007 and rising already in 2008).

Like Mr. Micawber, Mr. Benn is hoping that something will turn up. In this case something like a vaccine. But a vaccine, if one ever does turn up and however potent it may be, cannot be expected to work, either for cattle or badgers, in the face of massive challenge from the current heavily infected badger population. Furthermore vaccination of cattle against TB is prohibited for this and other good biological reasons under current EU legislation. Scientists have been looking for decades without success for a better vaccine than BCG.

As long ago as 1998, when figures were last published, the prevalence of TB infection in badgers taken during Government removal operations across Great Britain was 26% and this figure cannot be expected to have improved since then.

All six reports since 1980 including the report last year of the so called Independent Scientific Group have identified badgers as the major wildlife reservoir of infection. Dunnet in 1985 declared that no further expenditure was necessary to prove the role of badgers in the epidemiology of bovine TB and in 1995 the Chief Veterinary Officer wrote that 90% of all cattle outbreaks were badger related with less than 10% due to cattle sources.

Mr. Benn has been seduced by the siren voices of Lord Krebs and Professor John Bourne, who, being desperate to defend the hugely expensive and flawed Randomised Badger Culling Trials of the last 10 years, have persuaded the Minister that to bear down solely on the disease in cattle whilst ignoring the huge reservoir of infection in badgers is a realistic policy for control. Lord Krebs is quoted as saying killing 170,000 badgers is simply not an option (where does he get that figure from?) but does he suppose killing 30,000 cattle year on year is an acceptable alternative?

Cattle unlike sheep are highly susceptible to bovine TB and simply act as sentinels for the disease in badgers. To ignore the disease in badgers is to ignore a ticking biological time bomb. It is estimated that some 2,000 badgers a year in the south west alone die from bovine TB. Furthermore they die slowly (340-730 days depending on the site of infection) during which time they will be excreting vast numbers of tubercle bacteria into the environment.

Mr. Benn should take his head out of the sand, look west and emulate the robust approach by the Welsh Government that is planning to eradicate bovine TB from Wales.
For more information, including our response to the ISG’s report, June 2007, see:

Please address any comments direct to VAWM.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dutch calves - update

In the posting below, we quoted the bones of this story from the Timesonline reporting of a Dutch Farming Paper snip quoting NBA Director, Kim Heywood as saying "We're so sorry".
"We' re so sorry .... all calves from the previous two months are traced so that they can be tested. As has happened with these animals which have gone to the Netherlands"

Ms. Heywood pointed out that for their part, UK stock breeders do "everything they can to keep this disease under control, but the government refuses to cooperate by dealing with the wildlife source.."

A 'ban' on exports/imports by one member state to another within the EU is illegal, unless it is instigated by the Commission. Thus it is left to Dutch farmers and exporters to vote with their feet on the import of calves, if they feel risk outweighs value. And this has given another industry commentator pause for thought. Ian Potter, in his newsletter (July 18th) seems to think that this 'embarrassing coincidence' the timing of which couldn't be more opportune to put EU pressure on government, is all down to an effort by Dutch importers, or at least one Dutch importer to control his market.
The Dutch desire for complete control of the UK calf export market is turning into nothing short of a ruse leading to questions as to their professionalism and integrity. National newspapers have swallowed hook, line and sinker the news that calf exports from the UK have been banned due to the detection of TB in calves on Dutch veal units. The accurate story is that the Dutch and Belgian veal industry, directed by one particular Dutch importer, have called for a voluntary ban on purchasing calves from the UK. The bottom line is this Dutchman and some of his associates are insisting the delivered price of the calves from the UK is immediately dropped. Although numbers exported are now increasing which will reflect in the price, there are numerous farmers who we deal with who have been exporting since the ban was lifted who in the past two weeks have returned to shooting the calves at birth, which puts more valuable milk in the tanker and not into a worthless calf. If the Dutch want to play games they may just find they have control of an unviable market."

Time tell on this one. Is Mr. Potter saying that calves from the dairy farm, which is now under a confirmed TB restriction, were neither exported, nor traced to Holland? We are also told that gamma bloods were used to check these animals, not the skin test, so just how 'accurate' is the 'positive' result reported in the Dutch paper and which kicked the whole thing off?

The whole scenario is just a bit too much of a coincidence for our liking. And we believe in those like we believe in the tooth fairy. Whatever the root of this story, it's outcome, we will continue to follow with interest.

We have just received a bit more on this story:
* The calves apparantly came from a dairy farm in Worcestershire and were taken to be batched and lairaged, by an exporter in Staffordshire.
* At a Prm test [on older cattle] at the Worcs farm, one reactor was found.
* Whole herd test found 50+ more [including calves] Two cows had multiple lesions including mammary glands.
* Large no. of reactor calves were found to have multiple lesions from drinking mastitic milk from these two.

The exporter's cattle have all tested clear.

(more as we get it.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Benn fiddles while the cattle industry burns...

... or in this case, faces another European ban. As he uttered those weasel words from the safety of the Westminister bubble last week, Hilary Benn wavered between "it might work, but then again it might not" when considering targeted culling of tuberculous badgers to halt the spread of cattle TB. Far better to have a go at something that 'might' work, than carry on doing nothing - which most definitely does not, but let that pass.

But as he uttered the words, while at the same time enmeshing cattle farmers tighter into a cats' cradle of bio security measures, and refusing them the protection of the law to control TB in badgers, he knew full well - assuming his staff had informed him of course - that the UK was facing a backlash of trade bans from Europe having exported to Holland, a batch of TB positive calves.

The story broke last night and today, Timesonline reported that both Dutch and Belgian farmers were imposing their own 'unofficial ban', on cattle from the UK.
Furious Dutch farmers have imposed their own commercial ban after 12 calves imported to veal production farms in March tested positive for the disease. The country has been free of the disease since 1999 and the Dutch Agriculture Ministry is said to be appalled at the breach of bio security.

Unofficially, Belgian farmers are also refusing to take British calves and adult cattle. Exporters fear that a complete ban on the trade of live cattle throughout the EU could be in force by next week.

Britain's' exports only restarted to Europe in 2006, after a ten year shut down following BSE problems. And after Pirbright's FMD fiasco last year, it was only in December that exports began to trickle out again.

Reports indicate that calves were exported in mid-March to the Netherlands, and that a subsequent TB test on the exporting farm revealed at least one lesioned reactor. This meant that Defra's animal tracing clanked into action and located some calves which had been exported to the Netherlands. Calves up to 42 days of age do not need to be TB tested prior to movement - in fact it would be a futile exercise as the latency of the skin test is 30 - 50 days, and only 12 days less for the gamma blood test. The Times sets out the time frame for notification of the Dutch authorities thus:
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) informed the Dutch authorities about the possibility of TB infection on May 22. The animals have since been traced and 27 Dutch farms are under restriction pending testing and results.

The Dutch Farmers’ Union is angry that it was informed about the outbreak only this week. Its members are boycotting British cattle and calves.

The Times, as do we, also remarks - but far more politely - on the timing of Benn's cop-out announcement, given the framework of exported calves (March), positive TB test( ??), tracing calves (May 22nd) and their subsequent testing in Holland.
The incident is particularly embarrassing for the Government and Hilary Benn, the Rural Affairs Secretary, who rejected last week any cull of badgers to control the disease.

'Embarrassing' is not the word we would use - but this is a family blog. But then we warned of this in 2004 when, as a result of a bit of Russian sabre rattling, a new EU export document was drawn up specifically to protect the EU markets from member states who refused to comply with their responsibilities in the eradication of tuberculosis. The actual document link has been 'archived' in the labyrinthine Defra website, but we hope to resurrect it. The gist of the ban for which documentation exists already, and which could be imposed on the UK is here and here and here.

After recent disease fiascoes, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) had a name change. Same muddled thinking, but this time with an 'Environmental' twist and a supermarket bias. Defra's new acronym contains no mention of 'Agriculture', an industry it seems at pains to destroy. One might even say after this latest debacle - of which we can only repeat 'we told you so' - the Department allegedly responsible for the nation's food supplies has proved once again that it is 'not fit for purpose'.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Defra lose in the High Court.

At 10 o'clock this morning, Lord Justice Stanley Burnton handed down his verdict on Defra's tabular valuations which have so badly discriminated against high value pedigree cattle. We covered the background to this case here and again here as Defra's 'one size fits none' tables claimed more and more young high-end value pedigree cattle.

Farmers Guardian has the sory:
DEFRA may be forced to scrap the tabular valuation system for cattle in its current form, after a High Court judge rules this morning that it was unlawful.

Lord Justice Stanley Burnton said that in applying average values to high-end cattle, Defra was discriminating against their owners without sufficient justification.

Defra will no doubt concentrate on the words 'high value', and spend a huge amount of time deciding exacly what they mean. Lord Justice Stanley Burnton's statement described as "perverse" Defra's claim the value of pedigree cattle culled under the policy was being "realistically or fairly determined" before compensation is paid.
The BBC has more on Devon dairy farmer David Partridge's case :
Upholding Mr Partridge's judicial review challenge, the judge said: "The Secretary of State has not satisfied me that reasonably reliable means of fairly compensating farmers with high value cattle at reasonable expense is impossible or impractical to achieve".

That in words we can all understand means that the current system of 'valuing' a pedigree animal, over the age of three years, in a single tick box is discriminatory.

It's fine if you happen to own a fifteeen year Jersey lawn-mower, who also happens to have pedigree paperwork, but not so good for a cow like ROXY whose genetic potentional gave her an official valuation of around £100,000 while Defra's tabular would have 'offered' her owner £855. And before any bright spark mentions insurance, that would be good. It would be responsible and it would be amazing - if we could get cover. And if, like most of the contributers to this site, after a claim we are refused ? What then?

Defra's bean counters are likely to be adding up potential figures in a whirl of Treasury led spin. Cattle slaughterings are up 40 percent to April - and if they have to pay the correct value for slaughtering these sentinels-of-a-wider-problem? That elephant in the room, is getting bigger by the day.

We suspect that the argument will centre on which animals fall outside the current tabular banding, and how many of those there are likely to be. We will be reminded of responsibility to the taxpayers who fund the schemes, but little will be made of Defra's own responsibilities in clearing the wildlife reservoir which is responsible for causing, as Lord Rooker reminded us "up to 80 per cent of the problem". Do that and it's problem sorted.

Meanwhile a few more boxes on the form might be in order, or an owner pre-breakdown valuation, as suggested by Ben Bradshaw. Many insurance policies operate on an 'average' value system, with individual items - or in this case, animals - identified as a bit special. Just a few ideas to conjure with...

Devon dairy farmer, David Partridge, successfully claimed he was discriminated against by the tabular valuation system. He said compensation paid out for a number of high value pedigree animals slaughtered because of bovine TB in March 2006 came nowhere near to reflecting their true market value.

That has not been the case since 2006, when this very basic tabular system was introduced. So, will the next question be 'is this decision retrospective', on cattle already culled for a fraction of their value?

NFU President Peter Kendall commented:
“.... this should never have ended up in the courts. The NFU and all parts of the livestock industry have sought to work with Defra over the last five years to devise a scheme that strikes the right balance between pressures on the public purse and the losses suffered by livestock producers, including those who have invested in building up high quality herds.

Would that be the scheme where the industry delivered tabular valuation and pre movement testing - and got a 'consultation' excercise in return? Or the other attempt to play politics which so nearly delivered zoning dressed up as risk based trading, by the back door - in exchange for zilch? So what has "working with" Defra actually achieved? The NFU, along with all the other main farming organisations have now withdrawn support for the issue of cost sharing and disease levies. Highlighting the 'responsibility' bit of that dialogue which our ministry seems so very loathe to accept, Peter Kendall concludes:
“The events of the last week, with the Secretary of State announcing there is to be no co-ordinated action to deal with TB in wildlife, makes this decision all the more timely.

We covered the 'no co-ordinated action on wildlfe' bit which Defra seem sooooo keen to avoid, in this posting which sets out the obligations of governments in words that even the most slippery, duplicitous and mendacious of readers would have problems in avoiding. Our industry has been shafted once. And almost a second time.
Farmers-in-suits trying to do 'deals' with such politicians will inevitably lose out; they just aren't in the same league.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Krebs, the whole Krebs and nothing but Krebs

The Minister of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs The Right Honourable Hilary Benn, MP having studiously avoided announcing his decision on controlling badgers to prevent the spread of bTB at the Royal Show, announced in parliament on monday that he would not.

Having listened to his committee, EFRAcom, (with ears tight shut?) and received most gratefully, the final report from the ISG he is minded that culling badgers may help the situation, but then again it may not. So he will embrace the Krebs trial report until 'new scientific evidence becomes available', bear down on cattle measures, support vaccination programmes and - set up a new advisory group. The full statement is here

Having listened carefully to a wide range of views from scientists, farming, veterinary and wildlife organisations, and many others, and having considered all the evidence, I have decided that while such a cull might work, it might also not work. It could end up making the disease worse if it was not sustained over time or delivered effectively, and public opposition, including the unwillingness of some landowners to take part, would render this more difficult.

I do not think it would be right to take this risk. Therefore – and in line with the advice I have received from the Independent Scientific Group – our policy will be not to issue any licences to farmers to cull badgers for TB control, although we remain open to the possibility of revisiting this policy under exceptional circumstances, or if new scientific evidence were to become available.
'New scientific evidence', refecting the time lag of any measures on a wildlife reservoir - even as dire as the 8 night hit and run visits of the RBCT - to flag up in cattle tests is already published and shows significantly different results from those published and commented on by Bourne. And as was pointed out in a comment when we posted a press coverage of this, its authorship is the most important bit. Not only does it take the RBCT cattle results on a further two years, it was complied by two ex members of the now disbanded ISG.

About this work, both the Minister and the ISG former chairman appear to have selective amnesia.

And we note that the Minister is not intending to lift the moratorium on the issueing of licenses for badger culling, under Section 10 of the Badger Protection Act "to prevent the spread of disease". Zanu-Labour in all its glory.

In his appearance before camera, The minister nodded sagely and announced that he ' could have introduced more cattle measures' but that at the moment he would not.

It would be possible to tighten cattle measures still further - as recommended by the ISG Report - but this would come at a high cost, and whether it would be worthwhile is as much, if not more, a question for the industry as it is for Government. There is a choice to be made.

That is why I have also decided to set up a Bovine TB Partnership Group with the industry to develop a joint plan for tackling bovine TB. We will discuss with the industry who should be on the group and how it should work, and I want to get started as quickly as possible.
Well hallelujah for small mercies. Zoning is still in his armoury, as the previous advisory group - the late unlamented T-Bag tried to sneak in - dressed up 'the industry supports...'. So waddya do? Set up a new group of course. The Bovine TB Partnership. And let them do it for you.

The minister also is intending making 'living with the disease' easier. This too is disguised dressed up as a benefit to farmers when in fact the opposite is the case. The new group's remit wil include looking ...
... at ways of helping farmers to manage the impact of living under disease restrictions, for example by providing incentives for biosecurity, or maximising the opportunities to market their cattle by looking again at the restrictions around red markets and encouraging the establishment of more Exempt and Approved Finishing Units.
We covered those biosecurity 'incentives' in the EU paper below - and it seemed to us more a way of reducing compensation for reactors than its enhancement. Perhaps it's the way one says it. 'Incentives for biosecurity' sounds more comfortable than:

Accordingly, it is extremely important to ensure that the level of compensation is the appropriate and serves to encourage farmers to respond to their situation in an appropriate manner that will prevent or considerably reduce future risk of infection. There is also a case to be made that the compensation is conditional on the herdowner’s compliance with stated conditions relating to the prevention of a further outbreak on the holding within a reasonable period. Otherwise, compensation may not be approved, or if approved, would be at a lower rate. Furthermore, compensation should always be at a level below (to a reasonable or, sometimes, significant extent) that of the current market price of comparable healthy animals.
Particularly when taken in the context of comments of the government's chief badger advisor, Dr. Chris Cheeseman of Badger Heaven, Woodchester Park. He has said (at meetings attended by our contributers in Cheshire and Wilts.) on at least two occasions that keeping infected badgers and cattle apart is 'impossibe'. "You get rid of your cattle", he told stunned cattle farmers. And of course exempt finishing units, while a valuable short term help, drastically reduce the amount of cattle traded on the open market, thus providing cheap supermarket fodder and consequently a lower price for tabular valuations.

Benn described an imminent vaccine availabilty, which is at best misleading and concluded:

Mr Speaker, the House is united in its determination to overcome bovine TB, and much as we would all wish it, there is no quick or easy way of doing so. But our best chance is to work together, and I therefore hope that the industry will respond to the proposals I have made so that we can get on with it.
There is 'no quick and easy way' while ignoring the main reservoir of the disease, and more cattle measures, as we have pointed out, may be sop to the lobbyists and government paymasters, but they do not work.

The NFU have taken full page adverts in many weekend papers with This Poster and the TFA has withdrawn from 'cost sharing' talks with government.

While Hilary Benn was speaking from the House of Commons on monday, Lord Rooker had this to say from the House of Lords:
My right honourable friend in the other place made it clear that he was grateful to the EFRA Select Committee for its report. He also made it abundantly clear that he took the view that, from a practical point of view, a culling operation would not succeed and could make matters even worse.

My noble friend is quite right that badger-to-badger transfer takes place in large setts with more badgers and more food. Living in crowded conditions was how human beings caught TB in the first place. Badger-to-cattle transmission is heavy; I understand that it accounts for about 70 per cent to 80 per cent of cases and that cattle-to-cattle transmission accounts for about 10 per cent of cases. It is difficult to be precise."

That seems extremely 'precise' to us. Cattle-to-cattle transmission 10 percent : badger-to-cattle 70 to 80 per cent. So - the net result of 10 years prevarication is 100 per cent of effort and energy, cost and responsibility directed at 10 per cent of transmission. And zilch into the primary cause. Sounds about right.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Opportunist soundbites

In a headline grabbing foray, Conservative MP, Daniel Kawczynski who chairs the All Party Group for Dairy Farmers has signalled his group's intention to launch a Judicial Review in response to the governmental leak of 'No-Cull'.

He writes on this website of his 'distress' and slams the opposition for their total disregard of the farming industry.
.... [I] feel so very angry about the Socialists' total disregard for our farming community. Hillary Benn, Margaret Beckett, David Milliband and all the others have shown nothing but shallow platitudes to me and others whilst happily ignoring our deep concerns and wilfully taking no action to address the crisis.

With that we would agree. But who initiated the RBCT Badger Dispersal Trial when decades of epidemiological evidence made it irrelevant? Who banned gassing of badger setts in the mid 1980's and replaced it with cage traps, simultaneously reducing land culled in response to confirmed cattle breakdowns from 7km to just 1km, and then only on land cattle had grazed? And who failed to challenge the moratorium on badger culling instigated in 1997 at John Bourne's request, rather than after democratic parliamentary scrutiny? Pots and kettles come to mind.
But in full flight, Mr. Kawczynski continues:
I am incensed that as usual we have to hear this news from the BBC rather than from government itself. Yet another leak to the media shows the contempt that DEFRA Ministers have for us. I have tried to go through all appropriate channels to raise this issue with the government by securing numerous debates in the Commons on Bovine TB and asking many official parliamentary questions on the matter, all to no avail. That is why we have no option but to go to the High Court to seek a judicial review over Government inaction. I shall be approaching various business people and sympathetic organisations to secure the funding for such a review and will fight the Socialists through the Courts until our dairy farmers have justice.

Sounds good doesn't it? A Judicial Review with the Socialists fought through the courts by a lone Conservative MP. The Lone Ranger perhaps?

It's an opportunist sound bite, a shot from the hip.

Consider the situation Hilary Benn is in. He has a report, which took ten years in the making which says 'culling badgers makes things worse'. As we have pointed out, the diminutive professor delivered exactly what was requested ten years ago. But things have changed, which is why, unusually, Defra have put out to tender which is in effect an Inquiry into the Inquiry - and let a third party have the RBCT raw data to peer review it.

Until the Minister of State has that peer review to wave at a High Court Judge, he has not a leg on which to stand. And neither has any JD which challenges the ISG final report.

That is not to say that action shouldn't be directed in another direction - or two.

The postings below describe government's statutory obligations under various public and animal health directives within both the EU and OIE, to eradicate tuberculosis from both cattle and 'wildlife sources'. This is to protect any mammalian species, including human beings, from its spillover. This they are not doing, and have not done at all since 1997.

And that is the other direction a challenge may take. The moratorium on badger culling was requested by John Bourne and fuelled by a £1million bung from the Political Animal Lobby. The Protection of Badgers Act 1972, Section 10 allows for culling of badgers 'to prevent the spread of disease'. But since 1997 government have not granted licenses for this purpose, where an Act of parliament specifically authorises it. Thus British law has been ammended, but with no parliamentary scrutiny - and no challenge.

These sort of speeches may be superficially vote catching, but they stand no scrutiny and smack of lightweight opportunism.

A hollow victory

In today's Telegraph, Christopher Booker reminds readers of the 'hollow victory' trumpeted by the animal rights lobby, as last weeks' media leaks indicated that Hilary Benn would not sanction a cull of badgers in response to outbreaks of cattle TB.
In a major victory for the animal rights lobby, so the BBC tells us, the Government will tomorrow announce its veto on a cull of the TB-infected badgers which are the chief cause of the bovine TB sweeping through our cattle herds.

Mr. Booker then offers a thumbnail sketch of governmental prevarication and intransigence over the past twenty years, to the point where currently this country is in danger of another EU invoked ban. "... here are a few of the basic facts about this disaster which the BBC has not been telling us".

Until the 1980s, the culling of infected badgers reduced TB in cattle virtually to zero. Since killing badgers was outlawed, our badger population has soared and TB in both badgers and cattle has reached epidemic proportions.

According to Government figures, the total bill to taxpayers of compensating farmers [ and paying for testing, slaughter and sampling - ed] for the slaughter of their TB-infected cattle will, within six years, have risen to £2 billion (this year alone payments have risen by 40 per cent).

More than 400 of Britain's most experienced vets, including our leading veterinary scientists, have told the Government that the only way to halt this disaster is a systematic cull of infected badgers.

As was confirmed by the former chief scientist, Sir David King, the so-called Krebs trials, used by the Government to justify its policy, were so unscientific that they might have been designed only to show that culling doesn't work.

But arguably the most serious point to have been missed by the BBC in their headline grabbing, is Government's statutory duty under numerous EU and OIE directives to eradicate tuberculosis from both cattle and wildlife, in order that it does not spill over into the human population. A point which we posted below with the compressed and overlong piece which sets out obligations of member states. Booker continues:
The Government is in breach of EU animal health rules obliging it to "eradicate" the wildlife reservoir of the disease. Animal rights groups opposed to culling have been major donors to the Labour Party. Britain is now in serious danger of losing its "TB-free" status which could lose us exports of dairy products worth £600 million a year
The level of disease allowable to attain TB-free trading status in a tested cattle population under international (OIE) trading obligations is substantially less than that currently 'enjoyed' by the UK cattle industry. Article states:
* Bovine tuberculosis must be a notifiable disease.
* 99.8 per cent of herds must have ben officially TB free for a period of three years as disclosed by periodic testing to determine the absence of bovine tuberculosis.
*Periodic testing of cattle is not required where a surveillance programme reveals that 99.9 percent of cattle have been in herds officially TB free for at least six years.

For the year ending December 2007, GB did not have 0.2 percent of its herds officially TB free; 'Deathrow' figures logged 7.6 per cent of herds under TB restriction. And in the first 4 months of 2008 (to April) that figure increased by over 20 percent, with cattle slaughtered showing a staggering 42 percent rise.

Britain does not qualify for TB - free status, and hasn't since 1986 when the Clean Ring badger culling strategy brought incidence down to under 100 herds affected and 686 cattle slaughtered. But let that pass. Booker concludes his overview with a swipe at the new toy Defra are happy to see in use - gamma interferon and comments:
The animal rights lobby raises no objection to this but is quite happy that thousands of infected badgers should continue to die a lingering and painful death (as we see from the corpses of TB-weakened badgers on our roadsides). It has indeed been a remarkable "victory".

The only winner here is tuberculosis.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Governmental Responsibilities

While government is spending £1 billion to 'no good effect' and do not have a policy to eradicate let alone control bovine TB, as Lord Rooker explained to EFRAcom in December 2007, their statutory responsibilities are more clearly defined.

This paper is miles long so we will compress it for posting. Apologies that the posting is still extended. The document is a working paper issued late 2006, and clarifies protocol for the eradication of bTB within the member states of the European community. It's purpose is to review general principles of testing cattle, to propose short term measures in order to accelerate the progress of eradication programmes, to draw conclusions on perspectives on eradication and to stimulate discussion on future strategy.

The paper states that the "proposed measures must be explored and assessed based on the individual situation in each Member State (MS) running an eradication programme for bovine tuberculosis". It begins with the legal framework:

1.1. Definition
For the purpose of this document, the definition of bovine tuberculosis (TB) is: “Infection in cattle with any of the disease-causing mycobacterial species within the M. tuberculosis complex”.

1.2. Legal framework

The Community legal framework on TB is formed by legislation on trade of bovine animals:

(Directive 64/432/EEC), legislation on animal products for human consumption (Directive 64/433/EEC, Directive 92/46/EEC and Regulation No. 2004/853/EC) and legislation regarding Community co-financing of eradication programmes (Directive 77/391/EEC and Decision 90/424/EEC).

Background to these directives is given thus:
The first legal initiatives on TB at Community level were aimed at facilitating intracommunity trade among the EEC Member States by establishing comparable health requirements. Council Directive 64/432/EEC defined specific requirements for the trade of cattle in relation to TB and defined the officially tuberculosis-free (TBOF) status of bovine animals and herds. An important further step was Council Directive 77/391/EEC which introduced Community measures for the eradication of brucellosis, tuberculosis and leucosis in cattle. Member States were obliged to draft eradication programmes in order to accelerate, intensify or carry through the eradication of TB.

The paper then goes on to remind Member States, as have we on numerous occasions, that eradication of this most serious of zoonses is not negotiable. It is a statutory duty. And should any Member state ignore its statutory responsibilities the Commission has reserved the right to implement trade bans on its products. In these eradication protocols, after meetings held in 2002, the paper explains that "the Commission works closely to incorporate new methods and to align more with the Office Internationale des Epizooties (OIE) health standards".

Experts attending the Tb eradication workshops held during the 4th International Conference on Mycobacterium bovis provide well focused recommendations:

1. Epidemiological data analysis and monitoring of the progress of most programmes should improve. For this purpose more refined indicators to measure the level of infection and progress of the programme are required.

2. The tuberculin test performs well at the herd level but has limitations when used at the level of the individual animal. Its performance can be improved by increasing the extent of coverage of the total cattle population and the intensity at which the test is applied. Compliance with 64/432/EEC (trading rule) requirements alone does not provide for an optimal testing regime in order to eradicate the disease because of the diversity of situations in different MSs and regions in which it is used.

3. Extended use of IFN γ test on a strategic basis to supplement the tuberculin skin test.

4. Improve the efficiency of slaughterhouse surveillance by focussed training, improved supervision and ensuring effective communication between the meat inspection services and animal health services.

5. The reservoir of infection within wildlife populations should be effectively addressed.
The involvement of all sources of bTB is stressed again here:
d) Improvement of the management of infected herds, ensuring that all sources of infection have been removed (e.g. anergic and other non-reactors to tuberculin, including cattle identified on epidemiological grounds, and infected wildlife ) and that measures to avoid reintroduction are in place (wildlife-proof fences), by ensuring proper epidemiological investigation of outbreaks to identify the source of infection and the implementation of a well focussed action plan aimed at stamping out infection in these cases.

e) Improved management of wildlife by strategic removal of infected wild animals.

A system of "rewards and penalties" is floated to encourage stakeholders to take their responsibilities seriously. Fine, as far as it goes, but does that apply equally to governmental responsibilities? From this administration we have seen much of the latter and precious few of the former .... thus far.

Slaughterhouse surveillance is classed as 'vital' particularly in areas not undergoing regularly testing. The paper also recommends many measures which GB is already implementing:

- Use of severe interpretation of the tuberculin test in infected herds and herds at special risk

- Strategic use of the IFN-γ assay

- Increased frequency of herd testing

- Implementation of the pre-movement test in areas and regions of high prevalence

- Definition and application of the epidemiological unit of concern

- More extensive use of epidemiological data analysis: indicators

- Stamping out in infected herds: criteria, application and assessment

- Wildlife removal/alternatives.

- Re-appraisal of compensation schemes

- Re-define and strengthen restrictions on animal movements

The authors stress the efficacy of the intradermal skin test: "The tuberculin test in its various forms is the sole test prescribed in Community legislation. While the tuberculin test has been an effective tool when applied at herd level, a lack of sensitivity at the individual animal level is recognised to be a major limitation of the tuberculin test." They discuss severe interpretation, which is already applied in GB when TB is confirmed either by lesions or culture.

They flirt with the new toy, Gamma interferon assay, pointing out that its parallel use would increase faster removal of reactors over a shorter time scale. Defra parrot this line while ignoring the caveat offered:
However, if concomitant diseases (e.g. paratuberculosis) are present in the herd or cohort under test, this may affect the accuracy and reliability of either or both of these diagnostic tools. Accordingly, this factor should be taken into account.

"Some drawbacks are the additional direct and indirect laboratory-related costs to perform the IFN-γ assay and also the logistic requirements linked to the collection of blood samples, their delivery to the laboratory within a specified period and the conditions of incubation of the samples with appropriate reagents which the assay requires represent a constraint in more remote areas."

... and given the carnage created by Defra's over injudicious interpretation of its new toy, the following may be of interest;
The IFN-γ assay should not be considered for use as a routine screening test in areas or regions where the herd prevalence is low. On the contrary, its use in parallel with the tuberculin test in highly infected areas is recommended as an effective means of attaining a higher Se for the diagnostic regime. Furthermore, in herds already deemed TB-positive, the IFN-γ assay should be considered for use at the first retest in parallel with the tuberculin test on such herds, after the index test, so as to remove the infection with the maximum Se.

We have no problem with that, once the wildlife reservoir has been addressed. But once that has happened, is there any need for the blood test, if testing is regular?
Pre-movement testing is discussed within the context of cost-benefit and/or cost-effectiveness ratio basis, which is recommended.

On whole herd slaughter, or 'stamping out' as the document quaintly sanitises the procedure, attracts the following criteria:
The decision whether to use stamping out or not should be based on a consideration of certain essential criteria that should be defined in advance. The prevalence in the area, the intra-herd prevalence, the persistence of an infected wildlife reservoir, contact with other cattle or susceptible species, the persistence of mycobacteria in the environment under local conditions, the interval before restocking, herd size, enterprise type and the type of husbandry, prevailing bio-security measures, farm security in relation to contiguous holdings (fences) and the ability and willingness of the herdowner(s) to conform with conditions pertaining to the stamping out protocol. Also, account should be taken of additional criteria assessed by the local veterinary services in relation to the decision to proceed with stamping out.

The bottom line to that little gem is contained below, in a phrase which describes the potential 'success' of the programme. The paper predicts:
.... effective eradication of TB provided other sources of infection, such as an infected wildlife reservoir, do not pose a major risk.

....... and if they do? The final decision would be made after consultation "in detail by local or regional veterinary officers when considering whether or not to
apply this option". So that's all right then.

And now to the core of GB's problems, and an elephant in the room which Defra seem unable to get to grips with. The paper describes any source of infection which

"enters into contact with cattle is a major obstacle to the eradication of TB. This obstacle should be addressed in tandem with the measures implemented in relation to the cattle population.

That's 'obstacle' as in badger or Badger Trust, and 'tandem', as in together, at the same time, concurrently and simultaneously. The paper continues that as [wildlife] vaccination is still a while away:
... in order to address the role of infected wildlife in the persistence of TB [measures] should be implemented without any delay so as to allow the progress of the eradication programmes. Removal of wildlife, either proactively or reactively following outbreaks, has proven to be an effective ancillary, and in certain situations necessary, measure to control and eradicate TB.

The elimination or reduction of the risk posed by an infected wildlife reservoir enables the other measures contained in the programme to yield the expected results, whereas the persistence of TB in these wildlife populations impedes the effective elimination of the disease.

Major socio-political resistance (lobbyism) against any measure involving the removal of infected wildlife or interventions affecting the environment are to be expected. The additional costs associated with these actions are not likely to be negligible.

The costs of not removing an infected wildlife reservoir are infinitely greater, both in straight monetary terms or the long term transmission opportunities afforded to its spillover victims. The paper points out that if eradication of this disease is to be achieved then:
Control of infected wildlife species that is based on the strategic removal of members of a selected species in certain areas is nevertheless a necessary and probably unavoidable measure if eradication of TB is to be achieved.

The paper stresses again the use parallel cattle measures. But not one after the other in either direction. GB has the bulk of the cattle measures in place..

Now this next bit is interesting in that the commission paper seeks to 'modify farmer's behaviour' to encourage / discourage transmission opportunities. Interesting concept, and one which, if reference to removing 'obstacles' has snuck under Defra's radar, tweaking compensation will not have.
2.3.9. Re-appraisal of compensation schemes

The re-appraisal of compensation schemes and their alignment with the level of the
herdowner’s cooperation with the eradication programme is necessary. Once adequate compensation is approved, then its payment should be swift. Adequate compensation implies that the compensation does not, in any way, pose an obstacle for the progress and success of the programme.

The compensation scheme should be aimed at modifying the behaviour of the farmers in a way that they do their best to avoid the reintroduction of the disease in their herds. Consequently, a level of compensation that is perceived by the farmers not to be sufficient to allow them to adjust to their new circumstances following the loss of their stock and the imposition of animal restrictions, along with concern associated with the possible reintroduction of the infection, jeopardizes the progress of the programme by engendering an attitude of non-cooperation.

and furthermore - and this is the bit Defra will have picked up on:
Accordingly, it is extremely important to ensure that the level of compensation is the appropriate and serves to encourage farmers to respond to their situation in an appropriate manner that will prevent or considerably reduce future risk of infection. There is also a case to be made that the compensation is conditional on the herdowner’s compliance with stated conditions relating to the prevention of a further outbreak on the holding within a reasonable period. Otherwise, compensation may not be approved, or if approved, would be at a lower rate. Furthermore, compensation should always be at a level below (to a reasonable or, sometimes, significant extent) that of the current market price of comparable healthy animals.

Compensation depending on biosecurity? Against badgers which need a concrete fence sunk 15 feet into the ground at Weybridge to keep them IN?

The conclusions of the paper:

Eradication of TB is the target at EU level as laid down in Community legislation.
Eradication should be feasible in the long term despite the fact that different
epidemiological situations in the EU pose certain difficulties that should nevertheless be addressed through specific reinforced measures.

• Requirements of Community legislation are to be considered in the context of the
eradication programmes as the absolute minimum level of measures to be implemented.
Effective eradication programmes should include additional measures aimed at addressing the different constraints to eradication in each epidemiological situation.

• Full involvement of all stakeholders and optimum use of the abattoir as a surveillance resource that is more fully integrated in the eradication programme should be considered as necessary issues to be specifically dealt with in the context of eradication programmes.

A set of ten specific short-term measures aimed at strengthening current programmes
have been identified. The implementation of some (if not all) of these measures in regions with high prevalence and in which little or no progress has been made in recent years should be addressed. In principle non-implementation of any of these short term measures in areas of high prevalence would require an epidemiologically sound reason, if such a position is to be accepted.

An announcement is expected very soon from Hilary Benn. We confidently expect this to duck the elephant in the room, and concentrate on more severe cattle measures. Equally, as his predecessors have found, and this paper confirms, such measures in isolation from controlling tuberculosis in wildlife, will comprehensively fail and at huge expense to the taxpayer and the industry.