.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Monday, July 18, 2011

Badgers and the Royal Welsh Show

I have just come back from the Royal Welsh Show where, as this item on the BBC website makes clear, the badger cull and bovine TB is still a major topic of conversation.

NFU Cymru are frustrated at the lack of progress over the appointment of experts to review part of the Welsh Government's bovine TB policy. Their president Ed Bailey is quoted as saying:

"Four weeks have now passed by since the environment minister stood up in plenary to announce that an expert panel would peer review the scientific evidence base regarding the eradication of bovine TB in Wales.

"NFU Cymru is extremely frustrated and disappointed that no further announcements have been made to date with regards to the make-up of the peer review group, the terms of reference and exact timescales to which the group will be working."

I am not disputing any of that. My frustration is with the way that the farming unions seem to place their emphasis on the badger cull as the ultimate solution to this issue. Without going through all the arguments again, important as it is to prevent cross-contamination between species, the main thrust of any strategy to reduce and control bTB in cattle has to be through proper control measures.

If anything the missing ingredient is a vaccination strategy both for cattle and badgers. Not only will a cull actually spread the incidence of bTB but it is also using a sledgehammer to crack nut. That is particularly so in England where farmers are apparently going to be licensed to wander the countryside shooting anything that looks and moves like a badger.

The Minister understands this, as his statement to the Assembly makes clear:

We have seen positive signs of a reduction in bovine TB over recent months. It is too early to establish if this is a long term trend, and the impact of bovine TB continues for those farms suffering its consequences. It therefore can not justify a reduction in the existing measures in place to eradicate TB.

During the review, the current regime of cattle surveillance and controls will continue. This includes the additional cattle disease control measures, introduced on the 1 May 2010, in the Intensive Action Area. There will be no badger cull in the Intensive Action Area while the review is being carried out.

The Welsh Government remains fully committed to eradicating bovine TB and this review of the scientific evidence base will contribute to that objective.

The farming unions are right that the review is not moving fast enough but they could also acknowledge that progress is being made, that the incidence of infection is currently falling and that what really needs to happen now is for the current control measures to continue and if possible, spread across the rest of Wales if they have not already.
Peter Black AM on the ball again. Peter is also now aware from the PAC bulletin if he has had time to read it that it could well be that a pilot cull in England will be announced tomorrow - an unusual even unorthodox move on the last day of Parliament before recess. But what with senior police, senior media figures either resigning or being arrested what an excellent time to hide bad news. Nothing new there then.
I pray that Paul Flynn MP is at the House tomorrow
I'm not so sure Peter is on the ball on this one. The government he opposes in Wales is against a cull- but his own party's government in England has today announced support for a cull.
This is not about Governments or political parties. It is about what is right and the UK Government is wrong.
There is actually a lot of opposition to the killing from Lib Dem MPs and Ministers at Westminster.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?