However, not to acknowledge such departmental developments is stooping very low indeed.
A letter from Mr. D. Denny, B.Vet., MRCVS published in Farmers Guardian Feb 12th., pointed out that there were many sticks with which to beat farmers but few incentives in government's handling of TB.
"The handling of the TB crisis is typical of the micro management of farmers by politicians with their own agendas. Instead of giving farmers incentives, the Eradication Group recommends more superfluous, petty and expensive impositions on farmers, none of which will have any significant impact in controlling TB."A longstanding critic of 'vaccinating ' badgers already endemically infected with TB, Mr. Denny then remarked on the protocol of the vaccine scoping trial, pointing out that having to purchase their own vaccine was "hardly an incentive" to its success.
We covered Defra's on-the-hoof developing protocol for their latest
These people are being asked to tender to trap and vaccinate 'x' number of badgers in an area of land, not yet decided? And the badger surveying, we understand, will not be in the hands of the contractors tendering for the job, but 'someone else'. Someone who may assess numbers correctly, but may not. And if they do not, then tough.As this project unravelled, potential contractors trying to get to grips with exactly what it was they were tendering for, apparently pointed out the vagaries of this smoke and mirrors idea and along with Santa's little helpers, and after the inevitable departmental New Year jollies, came the clarity of a rethink on some of the cost sharing. Particularly those on the purchase of vaccines for an unknown number of badgers, on an unsurveyed patch of land of indeterminate size.
Both vaccines and cages are to be the responsibility of the contractor, and their purchase, storage and maintenance, together with assessed labour and area to be covered will be the basis of the quotation offered. This is so vague as to be like catching smoke. Especially as by the date tenders have to be submitted, the majority (80 per cent)of surveying will not have been completed.
Thus in this week's Farmers Guardian, and curt note appears from a representative of our beloved Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, stating that Mr. Denny is incorrect in his statement that 'contractors would have to buy their own BCG vaccine'.
"That is not the case. The cost of the vaccine used in the BVDP will be funded by Defra".We are delighted of course, to give our readers an update of Defra policy, even as it evolves. But not so delighted that they omit to mention that it had been updated, implying errors on the part of a comment made ahead of the now acknowledged policy change.
We also note no mention was made of the meat of Mr. Denny's letter which concluded "demoralised farmers must be given incentives, not petty reforms".
"Nothing short of a targeted cull of infected badgers will result in any improvement in the TB crisis".Thus in the absence of howls of derision, we assume that with that final statement, Defra's representatives must agree.