Saturday, February 04, 2017

Going in circles, or another Trojan horse?

As Wales prepares to implement yet another round of cattle measures, bearing down hard on compensation levels and 'risks' of restocking in the post EU Brexit era, some stirrings can be heard in the farming community.

 Enough is enough ... reports Wales on line - [link] with the strap line pointing out that cattle controls alone, will not halt TB.

The Daily post - [link] gives a thumb nail sketch of what is to come for Wales' remaining cattle. If not for the infected wildlife they have to live alongside.

And thus we are reminded of what the chairman of the ISG (Independent [it wasn't] Scientific [ not unless you mean political science] Group [maybetold the EFRA Committee - [link] in 2007.
“What we are saying is that badger culling in the way it can be conducted in the UK, we believe, cannot possibly contribute to cattle TB control, and in using the word ‘ meaningfully’ what we mean there, is that if it is the only inducement that would encourage farmers to co-operate fully, and introduce effective cattle controls, it could have an effect”.
This was questioned, somewhat more politely than we would have done, by the EFRAcom Chairman.

He said:
“Can I make quite certain that my ears did not deceive me a moment ago, when you said with your almost impish smile, “Left to its own devices, culling is not the silver bullet but if it induced some other activity as a quid pro quo, it might have a role to play?”. Is that what you are saying to me?”

Prof. Bourne (left) replied:

“It would be most unfortunate if that happened but that is exactly what I was communicating to you, because farmers have made it clear they will not co operate unless they can kill badgers. Farmer co operation is absolutely essential to get this disease under control. It will be appalling thing for us if farmers were given the opportunity of knocking off a few badgers, just to get their co operation.”
So as the cattle measures, futile as they are, rain down on us, think of John Bourne's words, delivered with a smirk, that if farmers can knock off a few badgers, they will accept more draconian cattle measures.
Quid pro quo. Where have we heard that before?.
And will we accept them? Will we really?

So laid on the line,  imagine the map of England and Wales, with small disparate chunks of a few hundred sq km. allowing farmers to cull badgers for six weeks in a year, for a four year period only. And paying for the privilege.

We've snuck the map from Facebook, but you get the picture. It's a minute effort. Tiny.

Is it Bourne's Trojan horse?

 Compare those tiny patches on the map above to the area now affected by zoonotic tuberculosis, stretching from Cheshire in the north to the eastern borders of the Midlands, through Wiltshire and Dorset in the south and right down to Lands End in Cornwall - for England.

And of course,  the whole of Wales, conveniently missing from Defra's latest picture postcard.

 Meanwhile the Farming Unions are not happy with the spin being put on the 36 per cent increase in Welsh cattle reactors. Farmers Guardian - [link] has the story.

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