That's 'questioned' as in putting veterinary TB testing out to tender, and bringing more herds under former-desk-jockey AHO control. And 'questioned' as in shafting the ultimate cost of dealing with the problem in wildlife to farmers.
The Consultation Document produced by Defra, is high on rhetoric but lean on exactly what farmers will be expected to cough up and for what. But having explained in the Final Report of the ISG that culling badgers 'in the way it was done in the RBCT' was expensive and inefficient, a very similar scenario is proposed for a farmer controlled cull. Only this time, it will be the owners of cattle, alpacas, sheep, goats and outdoor pigs, who pick up the tab and not the taxpayer.
Farmers Guardian has the breakdown and further explanations can be found in the quaintly entitled Annex F - Impact Assessment, where farmers may have missed the mention of the £1.6 million they are expected to stump up for each 150 sq km, controlled under Defra's favoured Option 6.
That figure is made up with £.7 million for cage trapping and free shooting about half the badgers in 150 sq km patch.(70% of badgers in 75% of the land area) Numbers offered by Defra to support these cost estimates are less than 2 badgers culled per 1 sq/km. Further costs include surveying regularly and the use of fragmenting shot at £4 per bullet. Disposal will be at least £20 per carcase.
£.9 million is added to that for the vaccination in option 6, which Defra want to run parallel with any cull, both inside the area and on any exposed boundary.
This document does have one redeeming point. It categorically states that:
Badgers are known to harbour bTB and without addressing TB in badgers, it will not be possible to eliminate the disease in cattle.And with that, our new Minister of State for the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs the Right Honourable Caroline Spel
For this reason, (and several others, not least a potential block vote by the RSPCA and the Badger Trust) we think it is important that everyone directly involved with this: cattle farmers, owners of other herd or flock mammals, owners of dogs and cats, many of which have succumbed to 'badger' TB, veterinarians and supporters of healthy British wildlife reply to this consultation paper in a sensible and coherent manner.
More on the reasons to complete this Consultation, from NFU president, Peter Kendall.
Mail to : TBBC mailbox
Address: Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3JR