Thursday, August 06, 2015

(Un)Intended consequences?

We are still chewing the fat over Defra's publication on the WorldWideWeb, of recent bTB outbreaks (but none older than 5 years) and although usually erring on the side of cock up rather than conspiracy, we now begin to wonder.

 Today, Farmers Guardian published an article containing many quotes from people involved with the map - [link] and some from those on the receiving end.  Firstly from Defra, defending it publication:
A Defra spokesperson said: "We are not aware of any security risk to farmers as a result of and no personal information is accessible through this website."

The map complies fully with the 1998 Data Protection Act and 2014 Tuberculosis Order, Defra said.
When detailed views of your farm are plastered all over the internet, a spurious postmortem of dated outbreaks given and field owners named,  we would say 'security' was seriously breached.
And the fact that the 2014 Tuberculosis Order was amended last year to allow this, escapes no one.

The relevant addition, after warnings about the need to keep records of herd restrictions for three years, is paragraph 4 which states:
"Where a bovine herd loses its tuberculosis-free status the Secretary of State may publish information regarding that herd in any form that the Secretary of State sees fit for the purpose of helping other persons to protect against the further spread of tuberculosis."
And that sounds fairly innocuous - as many of Defra's statements do. And if it were merely to allow alerts to go out to immediate neighbours of a new breakdown, that would be sensible. But as for 'protecting against the further spread of tuberculosis', that is rubbish. And Defra know it.

Any farm with a breakdown older than Oxford University's 5 year window, is not listed. And according to Defra's own figures that amounts to around 1500 cattle farms. And if Defra are really serious about advertising their appalling record on eradicating zoonoticTuberculosis to the world, and think this map will help prevent the spread, why not add outbreaks involving llamas, alpacas, pigs, sheep, bison and goats?
Eradication of zTB is not an 'option' for Defra. It has signed International obligations to do so.

So we return to our title: (Un) Intended consequences. Following the ISG's ten year debacle on dispersing infectious badgers, known as the RBCT and where its arch magician described 'the political steer' - [link] which was followed diligently from its inception, we return to his inevitable conclusion.
Culling badgers would not happen.

But those pesky farmers would not go away and Defra had to keep culling their cattle. Shame on them.
So, using NFU as leverage,  Defra slashed cattle valuations, loaded  extra (cattle) regulations, all designed  to seriously hamper trade while actually do nothing about a wildlife reservoir whatsoever. 

Nothing if not tenacious, those stubborn cattle farmers tried so very hard - [link] to comply with the crazy protocols set out by a quango known as Natural England and a couple of areas actually managed to produce a pilot cull. More were planned to follow as the results on TB breakdowns in cattle and animals slaughtered in the first two areas, are reported to be pretty spectacular.

This despite monumental interference, harassment and intimidation by activists terrorists - [link] who continue to show no remorse whatsoever for their actions. And of course, they are reveling in the latest high resolution sat-nav routes to our farms, where they plan to repeat them. A quote in Farmers Guardian's article from Tiernan:
"From a point of view of advertising where the breakdowns are, you can see on the maps that have gone up so far it would be quite easy to say 'this farm' and you can put a crosshair on those maps and you can reproduce that.

"The maps will provide us – and have provided us - with a far better idea of where we should prioritise looking after badger setts because where there has been a breakdown those farms are far more likely to not only have signed up for a badger cull but more than likely will be out there shooting the badgers themselves.

There will be more attention paid to those that have had a TB outbreak."
The Badgerists websites are peppered with 'illuminating' comments about the effect they expect from the information Defra's map has provided for them. Phrases such as 'shining a light' on outbreaks and a 'natural bactericide', imply a more than passing interest in farms thus labelled. We can read the runes if Defra cannot.

 As former Secretary of State, Owen Paterson commented:
"The [cull] policy had been compromised all along, he added. “The antis placed so many obstacles to make it fail. I cannot tell looking back whether they were inside Government, outside or both."
And our use of the word 'terrorist' is not overstating the situation. Dictionary definition:
"The practice of using violent and intimidating methods especially to achieve political ends." 
But is not putting sensitive and personal data on a public website, which may give those intent on preventing lawful activities,  in fact aiding and abetting such 'terrorism'? We would suggest it could be.

And these were precisely the actions for which Camel Ebola (aka Jay Tiernan) was served with an injunction to prevent. But will it? Now that he and others can add cyber bullying to their list of credits, courtesy of  Defra, our Department of  Food and Rural Affairs, charged with eradicating tuberculosis. Even from badgers.

So in all seriousness we ask if the 'Stop the Cull' campaign could be run from inside Defra?

Events we have listed in a brief chronology on this link  include the political shenanigans known as the RBCT,  the cats cradle of cull protocol dreamed up by Natural England for badger culls and now that the inevitable consequences of publishing this map, would support that conclusion.

In fact as cattle farmers, everything we have experienced over the last twenty years, lead us to postulate that these consequences were exactly as intended.

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