Saturday, August 10, 2013

Could do better?

The industry's reaction to Defra's latest Consultation (the third in eight years) on how or whether to cull badgers in response to breakdowns of zoonotic tuberculosis in cattle, is unusually sceptical. In fact pretty much as we posted  last week. And although perhaps more politely phrased, the message is the same.

 Farmers Guardian carries comments from the NFU, in their combined report of David Cameron's visit to North Devon show last week. Polishing bucolic egos, Mr Cameron referred to farmers as the 'backbone' of the rural community. But last November, wasn't it the very same 'David Cameron' who exercised a downward push on CAP payments which have led to a 30 per cent reduction for the UK? It was. So UK farmers will certainly need that 'backbone' to survive heavily subsidised imports from their closest trading competitors. But we digress.

 FG's report quotes from an NFU  letter to the minister and their concern over this latest consultation:
“The NFU and most farmers accept that TB eradication will require simultaneous action on a number of fronts. But the common perception is that additional cattle controls have been progressively ratcheted up along with a promise of a comprehensive approach but, ultimately, no action has been taken on badgers,” the letter states.

The letter warns the document is ‘lacking in any detailed rationale or risk-based analysis for many of the elements of the strategy’.
But there's plenty of detail on cattle measures in the damn thing, and therein lies the problem. As we said when it was launched, shaft me once, shame on you. Shaft me twice, shame on me.

And this is the third bundle produced by Defra's apparatchiks ' yet still there is SFA nothing positive for cattle, sheep alpaca or pig farmers to support on a TB policy 'in the round'. Just vague fluff on contraception, vaccination, and new technology for badgers. Sometime..

 The Western Morning News carried the story in which it noted a significant change of tack for the NFU: 
.... formerly seen as broadly supportive of the Government's bovine TB eradication programme, the organisation (NFU)  has signalled its dissatisfaction with progress so far.

There is widespread anger that officials have launched a "tick box" consultation, threatening restrictions on livestock movements, before pilot badger culls have even started.

And in a further action of defiance the NFU has said it will not complete the DEFRA consultation – an electronic questionnaire rating answers by multiple choice – but will instead set out its core principles, which puts building trust among farmers at the top of the list.

Kevin Pearce, NFU director for England and Wales, told the Western Morning News he didn't "doubt the sincerity" of the Secretary of State Owen Paterson but said cattle farmers had been given so many broken promises they "just don't believe it".
We too, do not doubt the sincerity of the Secretary of State. The same cannot be said of the mandarins who run his department. And the NFU are correct about the tick box, computer read, multiple choice answer to very specific questions.

Our advice would be the same. Write your own answer, but make it short and make your feelings clear. 

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