Saturday, April 18, 2009

More sympathy. No change.

This week, recently appointed Minister for Waste and Recycling within Defra, Jane Kennedy MP, visited farms in North Somerset to meet farmers and vets who were directly affected by and involved with badgerTB.

She sought to reassure sceptical farmers that Defra is ‘absolutely committed’ to tackling bovine TB ...... but made it clear that Defra has no intention of following the Welsh approach of combining tighter cattle controls with a cull of badgers in the most infected areas.

Speaking to Farmers Guardian during the trip, Ms Kennedy said she wanted to hear about the impact of the disease on farm businesses and communities and ‘get a better understanding of what people on the ground believe would make a difference’.

But she acknowledged that her first task was to rebuild farmers’ confidence in Defra, which she admitted had ‘waned’ as a result of its bTB policy.
“Part of my role here is to seek to reassure farmers that we are absolutely committed to tackling this disease. It is not something we think farmers have to live with,” she said.

and added that
" when farmers see the plan we are working on with the TB Eradication Group it will rebuild their confidence in our commitment to tackling this disease.”

And that plan would be? Farmers undertaking wild animal veterinary practise, by vaccinating badgers endemically infected with tuberculosis, with errr, a vaccine for tuberculosis.
She said Defra was ‘working hard’ to bring forward alternative ways of controlling disease in badgers, primarily through an injectable vaccine that is due to be deployed next year. However, she admitted it would ‘take a number of years before we see any impact of that’.

Now far be it from us to rain on Ms. Kennedy's parade, but veterinary opinion on this idea is from two points of the spectrum. One view is that BCG is an unpredictable product and that combined with the inefficiency of cage traps would indicate that even if used as a firebreak, in areas of relatively healthy bagers, any benefit would take a long time to filter through. As in decades. And in 'firebreaks' the minister is not interested.

But in areas where the badgers are already heavily infected with tuberculosis (and these are precisely the zones in which Ms. Kennedy proposes farmers attempt to collect, cage trap, mark and jab them ) then the stress of this operation may quite quickly blow an 'infected' candidate into full blown 'infectious' status, thus making a bad situation a whole lot worse. And it can get worse than 2008's tally of 40,000 dead cattle and almost 10 percent of farms having restrictions during the year, as we showed here.

But the point is that no one really knows what will happen. Least of all the people at VLA who are steering the whole thing. Pragmatically, they collect their salaries and follow their master's voice. It is not for Defra employees to pass judgement - even on such schemes as superficially daft as this one.

The final word on the minister for Waste and Recycling's visit goes to the NFU's South West spokesman Ian Johnson, who commented that:
"Farmers were grateful the Minister was visiting the region for a second time to discuss bTB. But the reality is we are no closer to a solution and no amount of listening and sympathy can make up for that.”

Another prolonged wringing of ministerial hands then. And no change in non-policy. And inevitably, more 'waste' for which this junior minister, and her boss are entirely responsible, and for which the industry will ultimately pay.


Anonymous said...

Thankfully this so-called government is on its last legs and going down fast – sadly it’s taking much of the Nation with it!

It will never be the same – New Labour’s undemocratic corrosive regime has tainted all strands of life during the last 12 or so years

It has politicised everything and placed its representatives at the top of all / most influential bodies – be it the Civil Service, the BBC, the Health and Education Authorities Quangos etc etc etc. – it has sought to control everything and everybody through its unyielding control-freakery.

As for the current dire situation farmers find themselves in with Badger TB – it started with a million pounds bribe – followed by the ‘convincing’ of Professor Krebs that there was no proof that badgers passed-on bTB to cattle! So the weak Pro Krebs gave in – and simultaneously launched his political career – on a promise!

As soon as he compromised his scientific beliefs and methods he joined the New Labour gravy train – not addressing the real bTB problem with a practical solution but proposing an impractical Trial – also agreeing that no badger should be culled outside the trial area in the interim – a totally dishonest and treacherous act that nobody should forgive.

He has of course since been knighted and then ennobled – now Lord Krebs.

Lord Krebs – son of the scientist I most admire – a Nobel Prize winner - the biochemist who discovered the Tri-Carboxylic Acid Cycle (Krebs’ Cycle) …. Pure poetry! His father must be turning in his grave!

Lord Krebs - upgraded from his father’s Cycle to his own Gravy Train – another New Labour success!

Krebs has collected an infinite number of honorary degrees all over the world – he has a list of reports, references etc as long as your arm – but does he mention the Badger Report or the Trials? – does he hell!

And his reaction to Benn announcing that there will be no cull? “Well – he says – where would we be if we can’t trust science?”

The truth of course is that he is a TWITCHER – an ACADEMIC BIRDWATCHER – but he did the government bidding – the government paid the piper and called the tune – Pro Krebs was that piper!

But of course he is not alone in taking this scientifically corrupt course of action to further careers – many of the current senior DEFRA scientists have twisted the truth and got into bed with New Labour’s animal rights / vegetarian / no-cull agenda

And it is these that should now be preparing to re-assess their scientific beliefs prior to the next General Election – or they will be thrown out with the rubbish they have so weakly and disgracefully accommodated these past 12 years.

The Tories must have a 'clear out' of the dishonest unprofessional DEFRA scientists!

The list should be prepared now!

Peter Brady

Matthew said...

Agree Peter. But cannot believe for how little, these people will sell their souls. Science? They're having a laugh.
On the subject of waste, ironically for which Jane Kennedy has the ministerial reponsibility, we hope to collect enough data to produce another picture graph of the badger TB's epidemic 'waste' of taxpayers' money.
However much Defra like to hammer down farmers' share of their TB budget, it remains only a small third of the total spend, with other costs, especially testing, overtaking. And that part isn't going to go anywhere but up.

Anonymous said...


Extracted from budget doc'n

Examples of value for money savings include:

Defra £381 million (including £75m of additional savings in 2010-11)

£50 million by streamlining the Environment Agency’s delivery of Flood and Coastal Erosion
Risk management at the same time as funding is increased over the 2007 CSR period;

£44 million on more efficient animal disease surveillance through a more risk-based approach to monitoring and enforcement and by sharing costs with industry;

£10 million from rationalising Defra’s estate, particularly in London, enabled by greater use of hot-desking and portable IT solutions; and

£6 million through the re-procurement of facilities management services for Defra and its Agencies.

DEFRA will not save the 44 millions but there is a way of saving even more!

Peter Brady