Thursday, April 08, 2010

Defra short of cash? Nah ..

As the Badger Vaccine Deployment Project stutters along - or not, another £630,000 of taxpayer's money bites the dust. Defra have commissioned a few universities to ask what farmers think of vaccinating badgers.
"The social science study has been funded for four years in the first instance and will assess the level of farmer confidence in the use of vaccination before, during and after vaccine deployment. It will also identify motivators and barriers that could influence the future use of TB vaccines. The research is being funded with a grant of just over £630,000 from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)."
Online site farminguk has the story.

Defra has no spare cash (we're told). They are certainly reluctant to spend much on PCR machines - even made-in-Britian ones. Postmortems and TB transmission opportunities for newly diagnosed species are limited or nonexistant due to that paucity of cash, we understand. And staff (veterinary, if not managerial) are demoralised even after being launched into a series of bongo drum playing 'bonding jollies' at the taxpayer's expense. But our delightful Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are able to dig deep enough to fund University budgets for this garbage 'fascinating piece of longtitudinal social science research'.

"This is a fascinating piece of longitudinal social science research. It has real academic value and will be useful to both the farming industry and to policy makers."

Never underestimate the ability of bureaurocrats to spend your money.


Anonymous said...

"It will also identify motivators and barriers that could influence the future use of TB vaccines."

If 'farmers' were more open to understanding complex issues like TB this type of research would not be necessary.

Of course, if vaccination proves not to be an option it might be 'the other side' that needs motivating!

Matthew said...

Anon. 9.40 said:

"If 'farmers' were more open to understanding complex issues like TB this type of research would not be necessary."

There's nothing complex about TB. It's a zoonotic bacteria, very infectious in some species, less so in others, and 'farmers' have no say whatsoever in its control.

The responsibility for that and its eradication is to protect human health, and is laid down in various and numerous EU and OIE documents.

Cattle vaccination is a definite 'no' from the our masters in the EU. And is not necessary in most countries either. Only countries such as UK, where a wildlife maintenance reservoir is allowed to let rip. And then you face the problem, not of farmer's attitudes to vaccination - even of endemically infected badgers - but of vaccinating every goddamn thing else which may fall over the detritus they leave behind.

Seen our pics of alpaca's lungs ?? That's what TB does.
Seen the badger pms too?
What is the point of 'vaccinating' an animal in that state?

Anonymous said...

From what I have read and been told, the chances of this ever getting off the ground are slim. The costs involved with trying to get this contract off the ground is going to be enormous. All of the restrictions placed on the contractors will make life very difficult for them. Only 2 days trapping per farm for only 3 hours a day - how can that work when Krebs had 2 weeks and didnt manage to catch that many ? Somebody in Defra - whoever is reponsible for making these daft rules, should have to explain why he/she has made these decisions and what the implications of making them are. Will it be 2 times or 3 times the cost of what it should be ? Will they be able to do all of the areas when the costs are going to be so high. I have a very learned friend who tells me that the whole thing is just a ploy to put the contractors off bidding so that Defra have an easy way out before the whole thing gets ditched. I wonder if she is right ? My gut feeling is that she is and that a change of Government will see the whole thing discarded. Maybe they will let the colleges keep their £600000+ anyway ?

Matthew said...

Anon 11.48.
That the costs of this latest charade are enormous is agreed. Defra have stated they will throw £11 million at it initially and that it is ongoing. But it is the contractors, bidding against each other, who will carry any losses.

As to the effects, they are in the lap of the gods. Results of any government spend should at the very least be cost effective in the prevention of TB transmission and its swift reduction in sentinel tested cattle and other species. But from the remarks made by VLA at the inception of badger vax in endemic TB areas, they haven't a clue but 'hope it won't make things worse'.

Don't we all.

That is political posturing at its worst. The result of short term, weak politicians steering medico/veterinary policy to meet lobby fodder bungs.

Defra will always look to blame someone else and use layers of NGOs / university projects to tell them what they what to hear. So you could be right in the assumption that by making this more vague and costly than it needed to be, irrespective of its likely outcome, that someone will see that the emporer is wearing not a lot, and ditch it.

But no one yelled 'foul' at what Krebs was up to until almost the end. And invaluable as those statements were / are, the resulting skewed 'political science' and its numerous satellite mathematical assumptions still stand.

Tuberculosis bugs must be happy chappies with this lot.

Anonymous said...

In our area in Glous, one of the vaccine areas, there are some enormous earths in it. We have spoken to some of those who are hoping to get the work and what they told us was frightening to say the least. Not only are they only trapping for three hours a day, having to visit each earth twice, they are only trapping for 2 nights and when they have caught one badger they can pack up and call it job done ! Even more unbelieveable is that they are going to be paid the same for trapping a one hole earth as they are for a 50 hole earth ! Who on earth drempt this up ! We know there are over 20 badgers in our earth and to catch only one and then say job done is truly amazing. This can only go to prove that the whole thing is a sham and that it is being done purely to say that something is being done to keep the europe happy. Why on earth they just cant get on and do what needs to be done - a cull - and spend the money where it will make a difference.