Friday, April 02, 2010

Spring update.

This week, badger vaccine were given the go ahead for a late summer start. Farmers Guardian reports:
The Defra-funded Badger Vaccine Deployment Project will now take place in areas of 300 in Staffordshire, the Herefordshire and Worcestershire border, two locations in Gloucestershire and two in Devon from this summer. Within each location, vaccination will take place on up to of target farms. Participants are currently being signed up.

Below some 'participants' - and from their locations described above, it is a fair assumption to say most will already be coughing - as is pointed by a longer overview in Western Morning News.
Defra's overview if you remember, on this latest daft idea policy is that 'they hope it won't make things worse'.
Cage trapping badgers already endemically infected with tuberculosis? Holding a wild animal for hours in this cage? Large man appears to turn cage on its end, and stick toasting fork across the bars to secure the not-to-happy occupant, nose down, bum up in said cage? Jabbing them with a (very) long hyperdermic? Applying splodge of paint (not lead based) to identify a once-vaccinated badger? And then releasing it? Repeating this annually? No stress then.

(Our grateful thanks once again for Ken Wignall's permission to use his cartoon.)

From Farmers Weekly, comes a short report which suggests dosing cattle with mushrooms could help tackle TB. Readers should note that this story was filed prior to April 1st. Thanks to the comment which alerted us to the story, and in answer to 'any volunteers?' the answer is no. Not unless all the alpacas, llamas, cats, dogs, goats, sheep and humans have had their 'magic' fix as well.

And finally, Defra's 2009 TB cattle statistics can be seen here. Slaughterings are down and new herd incidents are down, but the number of herds affected taken as a percentage of a dwindling number of cattle herds, is up. The different regions show markedly differing trends, with the incidence in the West slightly up from 22 percent of herds affected during 2008, to 23.4 in 2009. But an 'amplifying' - that's Defra-ese for getting worse - problem in their East and North regions. Cue change regional boundaries? Move the maginot line?

Cattle herds in the East, particularly those served by the Leicester AHO, saw an increase of 35 percent in herds affected by TB during 2009, while the North (including Staffs, Derby and Cheshire) recorded a 53 percent increase in herd restrictions.

For TB in 'other species', which as only cultures sent to VLA form raw data, are likely to be an underestimate, can be viewed on this link .
This chart is compiled from autumn postmortem samples, many of which still await culture results.


Anonymous said...

Interesting to read the Farmers Weekly today re the vaccine trials. Struggling to meet the deadlines, behind with the area surveys, problems to train the contractors, only two months to vaccinate this year, Contractors upset, costs spiralling - all this from a Defra "insider", so it must be true ! Well, I am in contact with some friends who are in the process of tendering(maybe not after receiving Defra's latest list of instructions !), and it would seem that things are about to get a whole lot worse !! Apparently, the Contractors are only allowed to operate within 3 hours of daylight, have to pay 2 visits to each sett in order to determine how many have been caught before they can prepare the vaccine and cannot be sure of what they are bidding for because FERA won't tell them until they have checked their figures to see who gets what and that it is inside their budget !! Confusing or what ?! How can you bid for something that may be larger or smaller than you are expecting and get it right ? Add to this the cut off date of the 7th May(I am told) just after an election which could see the whole thing dropped anyway, and you can see why lots of the contractors are concerned about the way it has been planned and organised. Austerity, value for money, practical operations - only Defra could think up such a stupid way of wasting tax payers money or is it EU money by insisting on such a project being put together theway it has. Talk of making an easy job difficult - give to a Government Department to sort out and you are guaranteed to get exactly the opposite of what common sense tells you to do. Whoever the "insider" is, thankyou for letting us know what is going on behind closed doors. It only goes to confirm what we have thought all along - blind, leading the blind in an attempt to waste even more money on our behalf. Let's hope the whole thing is ditched in favour of what should be happening - a focused cull in the hot spot areas. If the Government can afford to vaccinate, they can afford to cull and do the job properly - The chances of that happening ? Nil if we keep the same lot in power. In my book, that is a good enough reason the vote Tory !!

Matthew said...

Thanks for that update Anon @ 5.37.
When and if we get a link to the FW story, we'll post it, with your comments, if we may.

It certainly sounds as if the Defra's third storey windowbox tenders are alive and well. The sooner it is paved over, the better.

What we cannot understand is how apparently intelligent people seem to park their brains in neutral, where tuberculous badgers are concerned.

If a group of children had the infectious and itchy spots of measles and an 'expert' approached them carrying a hyperdermic loaded with measles vaccine, the question on most people's lips would, we suspect, be why? Why not vaccinate the kids who had not developed measles? What would be the point of jabbing a candidate already infected?

But when Defra propose this convoluted, prevariaction of cage trapping and vaccination in TB hotspots where badgers are already endemically infected, no-one seem to bat an eyelid.

What we see is a cynical attempt by politicians, to dig themselves out of a hole of their own making.

Anonymous said...

ex Daily Telegraph

The Government has been accused of promising billions of pounds over the past couple of months to vote-winning projects in marginal constituencies. These pledges, adding up to £7 billion, mostly involved transport, defence and industry. Yet if you want a real illustration of how public spending can have everything to do with the Government buying votes, and nothing to do with improving our lives, than you should take a look at the rural sector.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is a classic example of jobs for the boys and girls. It spends £3,157,000,000 per annum, spreading our largesse over 67 quangos, which employ 28,000 officials (in addition to the department’s 8,000 core staff). And there has been no recession at the largest of its quangos, the Environment Agency: its funding has swollen by 37 per cent in the past five years, to more than half a billion pounds.
The degree to which the key appointments to these quangos has been politicised is shameful. For instance, did Pamela Warhurst recently become chairman of the Forestry Commission because she was the most knowledgeable applicant when it came to trees, or because she was a former Labour council leader? In 2009, Lord Rooker was handed the role of chairman of the Food Standards Agency, for a consideration of £54,000 per annum for a two-day week. As luck would have it, Lord Rooker had himself created this quango when he was a minister of state. The FSA has now bloated to include 37 committees, 11 of which are devoted to enforcement, which means sending tinpot tyrants scurrying across the countryside, hassling people who are trying to create jobs.
The roll call of these committees reads like a sketch from Yes Minister. The Advisory Body for the Delivery of Official Controls, for example, has – as of the time of writing – been unable to control or deliver minutes of its meetings from either October last year or March this year. And how much, one wonders, does the Food Standards Sampling Co-ordination Working Group cost us? In case you were not aware, “this joint working group was set up to help encourage better co-ordination of food standards sampling across local authorities and the FSA and to promote focused sampling programmes”. Now if they went on strike, we’d be in real trouble.
What is especially scandalous is the duplication involved. Independent, non-joined-up reviews of the future of our upland areas have been undertaken by Defra, the Commission for Rural Communities, and Natural England – which didn’t even bother to consult the Moorlands Association. If they’d all just gone to the pub together, they could have saved the taxpayer tens of thousands.
And right up to the wire, Labour is making appointments which will keep its placemen in power even if they lose the election. Former Labour council leader Ken Bodfish, for instance, has been given a comfortable seat by Hilary Benn on the newly created South Downs National Park Authority, even though the area seems to have survived quite well to date without having to be called a National Park.
It would be bad enough if the only downside to this was that we had to pay the wages and pensions of a public sector which this Government has expanded by approximately a million people. But the damage is much worse than that. If you ask any farmer or fisherman what single factor stops them being financially successful and creating more jobs, they will give you the same answer: the clipboard-wielding bureaucrats crawling all over them.
Nick Herbert, the shadow Defra minister, has pledged to look at every quango and verify whether it needs to exist. Necessary functions will either be brought back under immediate government control or be operated with “maximum frugality”. Only then can the countryside get back to work.

Anonymous said...

May I suggest:-

An interactive audience-participating TV Show 'processing' – FIVE QUANGOS A WEEK ?


Peter Brady

Matthew said...

Never underestimate a bureaucrat's ability to spend YOUR money !
And the pies which Defra's many fingers should be poking into, are ignored, shafted or sidestepped with our Minister hiding behind - a quango (or three) while ignoring his very demoralised, highly qualified veterinary staff.

Hasn't the number of NGOs doubled since labour came to power?

That first comment about the chaos behind the scenes of the proposed vaccine trial is mind blowing. We'll have a dig into that one..

Anonymous said...

Add to the first comment that all of the contractors are going to have 30 day notice contracts, whereby Defra won't pay anything to anybody until the first traps have been set, and you will see why interested parties are concerned about entering into any binding contract with them. Imagine buying all of the traps, vehicles, training staff etc etc etc and the costs involved in that to be told that you have 30 days notice to quit and, by the way, we aren't going to pay you anything !! With over £100,000 of investment at risk, it is ludicrous that Defra won't give any financial guarantees or commitment until traps have beed set. What happens if the Tories, after a summer recess, decide to ditch the whole thing ? Huge losses for contractors, no loss for Defra. This is the sole reason we decided not to progress our own bid as the risks are too high. Added to what I have just read in the first comments, I made the right decision !!