Sunday, July 05, 2015

We've been here before.

This week, Farmers Guardian - [link] has an article on the frustration felt by many cattle farmers 'from the tip of Cornwall to Durham' over the grinding inertia they are experiencing; always promised 'jam tomorrow', if......

And thus far, those 'ifs' have been increasingly brutal cattle measures which have have little or no effect on the wildlife source of the majority of their zTB breakdowns.

The 'ifs' have been accepted with open arms by our industry representatives, who have shoveled the dirt in spades, on anyone disagreeing with this 'quid pro quo' approach - [link]
Meanwhile, as we have experienced over the last ten long years, Defra have a nasty habit of grabbing the 'quid' which is offered, while keeping the 'pro quo' firmly in their pockets.

 The fragrant Liz Truss,  Secretary of State now in charge of this unholy mess, has thus far unveiled no new cull areas, but has revealed an open access database for her department, chirping that this will 'transform farming' - [link] (Credit: This speech is linked to The Farmers Forum posting.)

One of the first pieces of data to be shared on line, is APHA's map of TB breakdowns - [link] in England.

Governmental reliance of computers is legendary, as is their steadfast belief in the data which is emitted from them. But apart from publicising to the world, the appalling level of TB breakdowns enjoyed by England, which one wouldn't have thought was a particularly good idea, are these pretty raindrops accurate?

A quick check of the total outbreaks which this site logs in 2015 (2,525 ongoing + 131 cleared)against other Defra TB databases - [link]  shows a substantial discrepancy. Official Defra figures indicate farms with a TB2 restriction order in place January - March 2015 in England, range from 3,451 to 4,037. Which is some degree of magnitude adrift from the new map data. This may be explained in part by farms with longstanding, ongoing, uncleared outbreaks not recorded at all. And that is more than opaque. It is the obfuscation we have come to expect from this department.

So as we head into the second half of 2015, with lorry loads of cattle still heading for Defra's mincer, will anything change? We've been here before, and apart from nailing first cattle farmers, then their vets -[link] to the floor on cost, nothing, absolutely nothing appears to be moving on dealing with zTuberculosis in wildlife.

This situation has led the NFU's Minette Batters to remark:
“The NFU and the farmers on the ground (in potential new cull areas) have gone above and beyond. Prices are crashing and people have put their hand up and paid big sums of money because they know if we don’t take out this disease in badgers we are not going to get rid of it on farms,” she told Farmers Guardian.

But as England's cattle play football with a lethal type of ball, (left)and pay the ultimate price at their next TB test, Northern Ireland roll out their 5 year TVR - Test, Vaccinate, Remove (TVR) plan.

In areas of endemic TB, this may  include the 'R' bit - eventually. Currently in the name of 'research', all badgers are tested, vaccinated and released.

This BBC Report - [link] report quotes the government Chief vet, farmers and the N.I badgerists broadly in favour of a targeted approach. And much more detail on the project is in the Northern Ireland Assembly's presentation - [link]
This confirms that in year one (2014) all badgers trapped were tested, vaccinated and released.
This year (2015) after parallel tests on blood assays to validate set side tests (PCR?, any badger found to be infected will be removed by lethal injection.
Some 40 badgers are fitted with collars to check movement and ascertain any perturbation issues.

The cost is £7.5m over 5 years on a 100 sq km area and funded by Government.

Meanwhile, in England, a 25 year badger control, funded by farmers appears stalled and our representatives argue about 'further cattle measures'.

Shaft me once, shame on you. Shaft me twice, shame on me.  We've been here before. Twice.

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