A one-off test for bovine TB of all cattle herds in Wales began on October 1. An additional 3,500 herds will be tested over the next 15 months, concluding on December 31 2009.Wales has seen a surge of outbreaks, particularly in the South and West of the region, where 14 per cent of herds were under restriction due to 'a TB incident' during the first six months of the year.
Defra stats show 1307 herds were tied up with movement restrictions, 60 day testing and slaughter in the 6 month period up until June 30th 2008, compared with 1500 during the whole of 2007.
The timetable for Wales begins with annual cattle testing and includes
compulsory purchase adjustments. A 'tightening up' - as in reduction? - is intended to:
"bring them more into line with market prices"
and an assessed 'risk management' package has been bolted on:
the aim being to link them to good biosecurity and animal husbandry on farms in order to encourage farmers to fulfil their responsibilities.We calculated at the outset of this plan, that little 'new' money was available for this project, so tabular valuations were on the cards to pay for the extra testing, the setting up of stakeholder groups and finally - maybe, just maybe - a pilot badger cull. As to the latter, Farmers Guardian reports:
As far as the “intensive action pilot area” was concerned, various technical experts had been commissioned with a view to authorising a badger cull in one area of Wales on the basis that certain conditions were met.This information is being collated and reviewed, and includes ecological reviews, epidemiological assessments, and ethical and practical considerations as well as the relevant legal requirements,” said the Minister “It is anticipated we will be in a position to make a decision on this in the New Year.”England's farmers, through their respective organisations, offered pre movement testing and tabular valuations in 2006, as part of a three part 'package'. For their part, Defra delivered a 'consultation' on badger culling, and Hilary Benn still refuses to operate the law of the land, hiding behind his as yet unchallenged moratorium and quoting Bourne's final report on the
This work, if we may remind you, allowed for cattle testing to catch up with the effects of the RBCT's 8 night hit-and-run visits with cage traps. And from the summary of their results we saw:
The estimated effects on cattle TB of culling badgers within the cull areas during the trial increased over the time frame from a modest 3.6 percent in its first year, to 31.8 percent from the 4th to final year. But two years later that effect had increased to 60.8 per cent.
Conversley the 'edge' effect, (unique to the ISG 8 night cage trap fiasco), caused 43.9 percent increase in breakdowns up to 2 km outside the triplet zone in the first year of culling, falling to 17.3 percent in the 4th - final year's scrape up.
But within two years, that negative effect had somersualted to a (minus) -30.1 percent incidence outside the proactive zones.
A 60 per cent reduction in cattle TB would be good (100 per cent would be better). And it would reduce pro rata the TB budget by a similar amount, one may assume? thus saving taxpayers some £600,000 annually.
We note that the Welsh Assembly has moved on two parts of their TB eradication 'package', but are still discussing the third.