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Can We Trust Politicians?



 Added by  Martin (Guest)
 17 Jul 2010, 9:46 AM


We are being told by the media that Britain has sunk into a pit of debt which is five times deeper than previously feared, with the country now owing the equivalent of £200,000 per household!
 
Instead of the £1 trillion reading normally presented as the nation's debt,
the UK is in the red by closer to £5 trillion, figures from the Office for
National Statistics reveal.
 
The oft-quoted £903bn figure for public sector net debt is a borrowing sum
calculated by the ONS according to international standards. But a broader set of ONS figures taking in Government liabilities show unfunded
public service pension obligations could add another £1.2 trillion and
liabilities in unfunded state pension schemes a further £1.35 trillion.
 
In reality it does seem that bovine TB is not really the threat to human health some claim so why are we spending so much money on compensation, research, fighting legal cases, killing cattle ...

Sally
The Badger Trust gives it full support to Lorraine Platt and Conservatives Against Fox Hunting as some in the Tory party do all they can to silence those who speak out for the majority - not very democratic!
December 24, 2016
 
The attempt by Sir Edward Garnier QC with the support of the Countryside Alliance to have the campaign group banished from the Conservative Party, is a blatant attempt to silence opposition to fox hunting and badger culling within the Tory Party and the government.
 
Today’s article in The Times, “Tories urged to sever ties with secretive anti-hunting group”, suggests that the group, Conservatives Against Fox Hunting, should be prevented from using the party’s logo or name. The article further states that there is concerns over the groups funding and participation in campaigns and events with The League Against Cruel Sports and the Badger Trust. CAFH claimed that the attacks on their group were a “baseless smear” and stated that they have complied with all rules. The full article can be found here.
 
It's clear that the pro blood sports and badger culling lobby within the Conservative Party are increasingly concerned that the caring compassionate voice for wildlife protection is gaining ground in the party.
 
The Badger Trust working alongside other wildlife protection organisations will ensure this voice is strengthened not silenced in 2017 and beyond.
 
CEO Badger Trust
 
becky
GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO REVEAL COST JUSTIFICATION FOR NEW BADGER CULLS
 
A Freedom of Information Request (FoI) has revealed that the Government’s promised financial reappraisal of its badger cull policy will not be made public.
 
In 2011 the Government stated in a policy paper [1] see here, that it would revise its cost benefit analysis with data from the pilot badger culls undertaken in Somerset and Gloucestershire, before making any decision on rolling out the policy to new areas of the country.
 
The culls were extended to Dorset this year despite the county having one of the best TB reduction results in the whole South West but no information on whether the extension was justified has ever been published.
 
Reacting to this decision to withhold key information on the cost benefit analysis of the badger culls, Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust said:
 
“The badger culls have proven a disastrous failure on scientific and humaneness grounds but a key factor which is likely to bring the policy to an end is the huge cost burden on the tax payer. We learned from Risk Registers published in February 2015, after a 3 year legal battle between DEFRA and the Badger Trust, that Ministers were advised that the cull policy could lead to huge financial loss or budgetary over run.
 
“With DEFRA confirming the culls in 2013 and 2014 cost the tax payer £16.8 million or £6,775 per badger killed, these fears have proved well grounded.
 
“We now learn that the Government are hiding their cost benefit analysis for the pilot badger culls, despite confirming this would play a key part in any final decision on rolling out the policy, as they have now done in Dorset.
 
“The Government’s reluctance to release this information, proves what we have known all along, the badger cull is a hugely expensive, scientifically flawed and inhumane policy which is unlikely to make a significant contribution to lowering the level of bovine TB in cattle.
 
“The Badger Trust calls on the Environment Secretary Liz Truss to immediately release the cost benefit analysis of the 2013 and 2014 pilot culls into the public domain.”
 
Peter Martin, Chair of the Badger Trust said:
 
“This policy is now becoming something of a national scandal. The levels of secrecy surrounding its implementation indicate that the Government has something serious to hide from us.
 
“The public and MPs should have been given full access to the cost benefit analysis on the pilot badger culls before any decision was taken to roll out the policy to new areas of the country. People’s trust and confidence in the Government is being tested to its limit as all the indications from DEFRA’s published figures suggest this policy is not only ruinously expensive but also failing on every measured indicator.
 
“This was supposed to be a farmer led and farmer paid for initiative, but as the taxpayer is picking up the bill the very least the Government should do is tell the truth about whether this money is being properly spent. One has to assume that if it was they would be more than happy to tell us, so I suggest we can draw our own conclusions on this.
 
"What is really worrying is that the Government constantly reiterates the culls will be extended round the country but if they cannot justify the expenditure then they should cancel the policy now. They should stop playing the badger blame game and focus on a programme of improved cattle control measures, biosecurity and TB testing systems, similar to those which have delivered a 48% drop in the level of new bovine TB cases in cattle in Wales over the last 5 years, without any badger culling. English farmers simply cannot wait any longer for the Government to get its act together on this and DEFRA should stop wasting their time and our taxes on this failed cull policy.”
 
References:
 
[1] In particular see paragraphs 4.17/4.18 on page 16.
 
4.17. The cost assumptions used in the Impact Assessment are for the pilot areas, and it is likely that the Government costs would be lower for areas licensed subsequently as the monitoring costs in particular would be lower. The farming industry is also confident that it can deliver culling at a lower cost than estimated in the Impact Assessment. There are however plainly some uncertainties around the estimated costs and benefits. This provides an additional reason for the decision to proceed cautiously with a pilot in two areas initially before considering whether to proceed with a wider roll-out. (That cautious approach is in any event justified by the desirability of conducting a pilot to test our expectations in relation to the efficacy, safety and humaneness of culling by means of controlled shooting.)
 
4.18. Culling in two pilot areas will enable us to test our and the farming industry’s cost assumptions for elements of the policy where there is currently uncertainty. Alongside the outcome of the evaluation of culling in the pilot areas (see paragraph 6.1), this will also inform our decision on wider roll-out of the policy.
 
Press release from Badger Trust
 
becky
The Tory Government is refusing to reveal a key report which will reveal whether the controversial badger cull is effective and good value for money. Last year each badger culled cost more than £7,500.
 
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has blocked publication of the major analysis, despite a freedom of information requests.
 
We ask - does the secret document throw into doubt claims the cull is worthwhile and economically viable?
 
Many already believe the badger cull is a hugely expensive, scientifically flawed and inhumane policy which is likely to make no significant contribution to lowering the level of bovine TB in cattle.
 
Defra refused to release the documents, saying: “We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosure of information concerning the badgerculls in order to enable the public to assess the quality of policy formulation, advice and guidance, to enhance transparency of decision making and increase Government accountability.
 
“However, Defra has concluded that the public interest in withholding the information sought outweighs the public interest in its disclosure.
 
“The assessment of value for money is still in draft form. Defra took a measured approach by extending culling to one additional area this year (Dorset) in order to test lessons learned in a new area and to expand the evidence base that will be used to inform analysis of badger cull cost assumptions and value for money.
 
“Information from this year’s culls will be used to refine Defra’s cost assumptions in the coming months and releasing an interim assessment before it has been finalised could mislead the public, distract from the discussion of effective disease control and impinge on the safe space officials require to develop the policy.”

 
becky
The NFU and former Defra Secretary Owen Paterson are claiming the reduction in bTB outbreaks in Somerset and Gloucester, the two culling areas are the result of badger culling. However, these claims are in direct opposition to the science and research of the 10 year RBCT Trial, widely regarded around the world as the leading scientific study in relation to culling badgers.
 
Professor Lord Krebs who oversaw the RBCT as Chief Scientific advisor to the government said "It’s simply not true that the pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset have resulted in a decline in TB. The NFU should be more honest with the public and its members.”
 
becky
 
becky
There are many in the current government that believe the current badger culling policy is not cost effective or humane as this latest press release from Blue Badger confirms. So, will the government heed their call to halt future culling? We will see.
 
Chairman of Conservative Animal Welfare and Founder of Blue Badger urge the Government to abandon the badger culls
 
The news that the pilot badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset look set to continue this year was condemned by the Chairman of Conservative Animal Welfare and the Founder of Blue Badger.
 
Suzy Gale, Chairman of Conservative Animal Welfare and Lorraine Platt of Blue Badger said: “It is very disappointing that the culls look set to continue despite Natural England's own Scientific Advisor branding the badger culls ' an epic failure'. The Government's own Independent Expert Panel showed that the pilot culls were both ineffective and inhumane.”
 
Lorraine Platt added: “The Government is so desperate to be seen to be doing something to control bovine TB but it should not ignore the science and facts against the badger cull. We call for England to follow Wales’s successful example of tackling bovine TB by focusing on cattle control measures and vaccinating badgers in the high risk TB areas.
 
Eminent scientists have spoken out against the cull because it will not significantly reduce incidents of bovine TB. The Labour Government culled over 11,000 badgers at a cost of around £50 million pounds over many years, only for the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) report of 2007 to conclude that culling badgers makes no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain.
 
The present Government does not need to futilely repeat badger culling and should learn from the ISG scientific Report conclusion that the rising incidence of TB disease can be reversed and geographical spread contained by the rigid application of cattle control measures alone.
 
The badger cull has been a disaster and has cost millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money which amounts to thousands of pounds per dead badger. Nearly all the killed badgers will not have bovine TB and the government has refused to test any of the badgers killed in the pilot zones for the last two years.
 
Twenty Conservative MP's signed Anne Main’s letter to former Minister Owen Paterson in 2013 of their concern of the considerable anxiety within the party about the pilot badger culls in England. The letter stated:
 
‘There is a need to keep Parliament informed of the results once the trial period has finished and before any decision is made on future culls.’ The letter called for any wider cull to be subject to a vote.
 
Sadly, for our Farmers, cattle and wildlife, the scientific advice has still not been heeded by Ministers and once again a pointless unnecessary cull looks likely to continue. We all have a vested interest in the correct and long term control of bovine TB. Culling badgers is not the solution. The solution lies in if the government will finally listen to sound science and focus on cattle based measures instead of badger culling as scientists have advised for many years. This disastrous policy has to end.”
 
becky
The Badger Trust is disappointed by the outcome of the Election which has resulted in the return of a Conservative Government remaining committed to the continuation of the pilot badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset together with the possible extension of badger culling to other counties of England. The Badger Trust will continue to oppose the badger cull policy on scientific, economic and animal welfare grounds.
 
We will challenge the badger cull policy in the Courts and in the media; we will lobby MP's of all parties and continue to campaign alongside you in the streets of our towns and cities. Badger Trust will support the wounded badger patrol movement, in order to help rid our countryside of this cruel, disastrous policy, which fails farmers, tax payers and our wildlife.
 
We will also continue to work with the Government, farmers and landowners to expand badger vaccination in order to build immunity against bovine TB in the badger population.
 
We would like to thank all our Groups and supporters for your tireless determination and efforts to stop the badger cull policy and we look forward to working closely with you as we continue the fight to end this new Government’s badger culling policy.
 
Best regards,
 
Dominic Dyer
CEO Badger Trust
 
becky
According to May Edition of Veterinary Practice (page 26) reporting on the recent House of Commons 'Question Time', the Conservatives will continue to cull badgers, Labour and the Greens will not and apparently UKIP want to gas them (despite the latter being illegal).
 
The report suggested if you want good animal welfare policies vote Green or Labour. If you want hunting, snares, badgers culls ... vote Conservative or UKIP or if you want non commitment vote LibDem!
 
becky
Dear Sir or Madam:
 
The science underlying the topic of badgers and bovine TB is highly complex. This has led to information being deviously manipulated by those who want to cull badgers, whereupon they seize on scraps of data to misrepresent in support of culling while ignoring the overwhelming evidence against it. As such it has descended into a propaganda exercise by the National Farmers Union to win support for culling and distract attention from the real problem.
 
The truth is that the persistence of TB in cattle is largely due to the continuing spread of the disease among the cattle themselves. Scientists at Imperial College London estimate that less than 6% of cattle TB outbreaks are due directly to badgers.
 
Wales has reduced cattle TB incidence by almost a half in just five years by more rigorous testing of cattle. While England lags behind, the Westminster Government continues with its badger culling policy, despite two successive years of failure on both efficacy and welfare grounds. And the cost? The two pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset have cost the tax payer a staggering £15million in just two years.
 
This Government has consistently shown a wilful disregard for the science in its pursuit of badger culling. The Government estimates that badger culling will, at best, lead to a 12 to 16% drop in cattle TB over 9 years, while many experts predict that due to significant changes in protocol it may actually make TB in cattle and badgers worse. As a result, we have to ask why our politicians are pursuing such an ill-conceived strategy. Political analysts conclude that it is to appease farmers and influential landowners in order to win their votes and financial support. If re-elected, the Tories will roll out more badger culls across the South West of England that will result in the needless slaughter of thousands more badgers.
 
Fortunately there are people who are not prepared to tolerate this contemptuous attitude towards our native wildlife for political ends. I recently joined a number of other scientists and veterinarians in writing to David Cameron to express our deep concerns about the Government’s TB policy
 
The reply was disappointing and gave no indication of the changes that are so desperately needed.
 
MPs are there to engage with their constituents on nationally important issues – badger culling ranks as the fifth most common subject of complaint to MP’s in 2014. I wrote to our Stroud MP, Mr Neil Carmichael, many weeks ago asking for his views on our correspondence with David Cameron. Apart from the usual acknowledgement, he has yet to reply. Indeed, he has failed to respond to all my written challenges and offers to discuss this subject since being elected. Instead of pursuing an objective position based on the facts in his stance on bovine TB, Mr Carmichael simply follows the Conservative whip in Government debates and votes in favour of badger culling.
 
Dr Chris Cheeseman
Badger Ecologist and former government adviser
 
Note:
You can read the abridged version of Dr Cheeseman’s letter published by Stroud News and Journal here:
http://www.stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk/news/lettersextra/12909788.Badgers_and_bovine_TB_/?dm_i=1NFN,3CIRQ,97TLTF,BZ42D,1
You can also read his guest article for Badgergate on why a badger cull won’t work here:
http://www.badgergate.org/guest-articles/why-a-badger-cull-wont-work/
 
becky
Brian May has said when it comes to scientific issues, parliamentary debate is lacking expert opinion – a point highlighted by the recent badger cull in parts of the UK. He said MPs need to learn more about the science behind specific issues when debating them.
 
"I think again there are some MPs who do take the trouble," he said. "I think what's lacking in parliamentary debates is an expert opinion. You watch people debating an issue like the badger cull and there was no one called to speak to the house who actually knows the subject and has spent their lives studying it. That's wrong to me, you're getting second hand opinions."
 
"Basically what's going to happen is that at the end of the debate the whips are going to come in and get people to vote a particular way. It's a foregone conclusion. Even if they don't do that the government can ignore the result."
 
May was speaking at the unveiling of the Common Decency campaign, which aims to encourage more people to vote while calling for reform of the UK's political system.
 
Brian May spearheaded a petition to stop the badger cull in 2012, with his e-petition going on to become the most signed on the government's website with 304,255 signatures.
 
"Independent scientific studies have shown that culling would be of little help in reducing bovine TB, and even suggests that it could make things worse in some areas," the petition said.
 
"We urge the government to stop the cull and implement the more sustainable and humane solution of both a vaccination programme for badgers and cattle, along with improved testing and biosecurity."
 
The petition failed, however. Environment secretary Owen Paterson gave the go ahead to the Department of Food and Rural Affairs to push ahead with the cull in February 2013. The four-year cull resumed in Gloucestershire and Somerset in September last year.
 
Just a few months later, further independent research was released suggesting testing cattle for bovine TB was 20 times more effective at controlling the spread of the disease than killing badgers.
 
Speaking about the parliamentary debate on the failed petition, May said: "You're looking at people – you can see it in their faces, we saw it with the badger cull - they're sort of lolling in their seats saying 'oh well, we're just going to carry on doing what we're doing. It doesn't matter about science, it doesn't matter about public opinion. We're just going to do it because of our own reasons.'"
 
Info from: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/brian-may-badger-cull-science-does-not-factor-parliamentary-debate-1493349?dm_i=1NFN,3A8MX,906L7E,BR7OZ,1
 
becky
The consequences of badger cull are more far reaching and badger persecution is rife and the government seems to be doing little to stop it.
 
Please see below the text of the Badger Trust letter to the Right Honourable Elizabeth Truss, MP, Secretary of State for the Environment Food & Rural Affairs, which was sent on 19th March 2015 following our meeting with her on 3rd March 2015.
 
Dear Secretary of State
 
STATEMENT ON BADGER PERSECUTION AND WILDLIFE CRIME
 
During our meeting on Tuesday, 3rd March to discuss the government’s badger cull policy, you gave us an undertaking that your department would issue a statement condemning the illegal killing and persecution of badgers. To date we have not seen such a statement and are therefore concerned to know the reason for the delay.
 
As you are aware all badgers and their setts are fully protected by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. Anyone who takes, kills or injures a badger, or who interferes with a badger sett, can be sent to prison for six months and/ or be fined up to £5,000.
 
We are particularly concerned that the pilot badger culls have caused a huge increase in illegal killing, something DEFRA’s own Risk & Issues Logs (RILs) clearly predicted. The Badger Trust Incidents Report, which compiles annual records from our supporters, general public, police and the RSPCA has shown a 116% increase from 323 persecution incidents in 2012 to 697 in 2013.
 
These incidents not only show a worrying escalation in the number of farmers and landowners willing to illegally kill badgers but also in the cruel methods used, such as by gassing, shooting, poisoning and snaring. The apparent legitimising of these abhorrent activities by the implementation of the government’s cull needs to be addressed immediately.
 
These attacks have become a blight on our society and countryside, and we feel it very important that Government Ministers are seen to be leading the fight against wildlife crime, particularly the Secretary of State responsible for DEFRA. We shall put this letter in the public domain and look forward to seeing your response in the very near future.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Dominic Dyer
CEO Badger Trust
 
becky
David Cameron has called the badger cull 'probably the most unpopular policy for which I am responsible', writes Dominic Dyer in his recet article in the Ecologist. But unable to break his pledge to landowners and the NFU, he has left Environment Secretary Liz Truss to fudge the issue until election time.
 
See article at: www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/2795093/will_the_badger_cull_cost_the_tories_the_election_it_certainly_ should.html
 
becky
The Badger Trust's report of its recent meeting with Liz Truss, DEFRA Secretary of State, is at http://www.badgertrust.org.uk/news/posts/2015/liz-truss-meeting-update.aspx - an interesting meeting but of significant concern was: 'We knew our facts and we were no doubt better briefed and had a clearer understanding of TB policy than the Secretary of State who is responsible for its implementation.'
 
becky
Ministers were warned of badger cull risks, documents show
Risk registers published after freedom of information battle reveal warnings over strong public opposition and risk of making bovine TB problem worse, not better.
 
Ministers were warned of the severe risks posed by England’s controversial badger cull three years before they began, according to documents released after a two-year legal battle.
 
Strong public opposition to the policy halting the cull was one of the top-ranked problems assessed by the ‘risk registers’, which are released the day after David Cameron admitted the badger cull is “probably the most unpopular policy I’m responsible for”.
 
Other significant risks were that the cull could cause an increase in tuberculosis in cattle, rather than decrease it, cost more than the funds available to government agencies and the police, and that “disagreement on the evidence base” would lead to “conflicting messages” to ministers.
 
The pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset have repeatedly missed their targets for the minimum number of badgers shot, leading experts to warn that disrupted badgers could spread TB further. Most independent scientists have condemned the cull and an independent panel ruled the first year’s culling to be neither effective or humane. The culls cost the government £6.3m in the first two years and the police £3.5m in the first year alone.
 
“The risk registers clearly show a policy that should never have moved beyond the starting blocks,” said Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the Badger Trust and policy advisor for Care for the Wild. “From day one it was clear to all involved that badger culling would be hugely expensive and would pose a significant risk of TB spread as a result of perturbation. If the public and MPs were given access to this information before the policy was implemented, we could have stopped this disastrous cull, saving millions of pounds of public money and the lives of thousands of badgers.”
 
The Badger Trust requested the risk registers, compiled in 2010, using freedom of information laws. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) refused and fought a series of ultimately unsuccessful appeals.
 
Info from:www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/03/ministers-warned-badger-cull-risks-bovine-tb
 
becky
Sneaked out just before Christmas, Defra's assessment of the 2014 badger cull inspired NFU leaders to claim 'success', writes Rosie Woodroffe. But the figures indicate the precise reverse: that too few badgers were killed to be effective against bovine TB, indeed the cull may even help to spread the disease. ...
 
Read more at: www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/Blogs/2721026/fail_2014_badger_cull_didnt_kill_enough_badgers_to_be_effective.html
 
becky
Liz Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was economical with the truth and downright misleading when she spoke in Oxford recently about bovine TB and badger culling.
 
One sentence in the statement is clearly alarmist and particularly
misleading:
"...the disease increased ninefold between 1997 and 2010".
 
Firstly, there are warnings in Defra's own documents to be conscious
of the acute rise in bTB incidence during the Foot & Mouth outbreak
during 2001/2002 as inclusion of figures from these years will skew
any conclusions, so using a time period spanning 1997 to 2010 is
either negligent or duplicitous.
 
Secondly, any reference to the rise or fall of bTB incidence must be
made relative to the number of herds/cattle tested as these have
increased dramatically over the years meaning there will be a rise in
cattle detected but not in cattle infected, as confirmed in the latest
AHVLA 'Bovine TB Annual Surveillance Report 2013' which states:
 
"Since the beginning of 2003, the RELATIVE RATE of increase of OTF-W
[confirmed] breakdowns has fallen by more than a half" - see
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/388679/tb-pub-surveport-eng13.pdf, page 24
 
(email from P 15 Jan 2015)
 
becky
Why isn't more being done to ascertain why some farms do not appear to get any bovine TB? Perhaps this is what Liz Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs should be concentrating on, rather than insisting on rolling out further badger culling across the rest of England? Here is a story of a farmer, with an active badger sett, in Somerset where we are told bovine TB is rife in the area and has led to intense badger culling. Let's hope this farmer's situation does not change as a result of any perturbation effect.
 
A Somerset farmer is celebrating 60 years clear of bovine TB, after all of his cattle passed their most recent test for the disease last month.
 
Chris and Margaret Burnett, who farm near Martock, keep a total of 51 cattle, made up of 12 Highlands, Longhorns and Charolais.
 
Chris, 74, who was born on the family-owned farm, has managed to keep the herd’s TB-free status intact for six decades, following the results of their most recent test on December 15, in which all the cattle tested negative for the disease, which continues to cause misery for hundreds of livestock farmers across the South West and further afield.
 
“I’ve never had a failure here and I have had cattle right from when I left school,” he said.
 
Chris went on to say that he has a number of badgers on his farm, which are very often in the same field as the cattle. He added that he didn’t know if neighbouring farms were having the same run of luck as him.
 
“We’ve got badgers here and I have seen them in with the cattle. I have got a badger sett about 60 metres away from my house,” he said.
 
“The only fault I have with the badgers is that they keep digging up my tulip bulbs.”
 
Chris admits that despite his long running clear status, he does still get nervous when the cattle are due to be tested. “You could have quite a few go down, you just don’t know, but up until now I haven’t had any.”
 
He went on to explain that conservation plays a huge role on the farm, part of which is open to the public and includes a landscaped garden, lake and mock Tudor tower.
 
“It is all down to conservation here,” said Chris. “I don’t use any concentrates and it’s all about feeding them good hay.” He added that he works to maintain the hedges which surround his farm in order to provide shelter for the cattle.
 
Info from: http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Farmer-stays-clear-bovine-TB-60-years/story-25817477-detail/story.html#comments#ixzz3OForvPU...
 
becky
Email received 19/12/14
 
Gloucestershire Cull fails again but government fails to tell the truth
 
What can we read to the timing? What a good time to release news to be buried quickly. The day after MPs went home from Parliament for Christmas the government has finally admitted that this year’s Gloucestershire Badger Cull was a failure for the second year running. The cull operators killed 274 badgers, just 25% of the maximum number of badgers they intended to kill in this year’s Gloucestershire cull and missed their minimum target by over 340 badgers.
 
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bovine-tb-summary-of-badger-control-monitoring-during-2014
 
Sadly yet again the government and the NFU are not telling the truth.
 
Whilst DEFRA confirmed that the Gloucestershire Cull wasn’t effective they are blaming the failure to“extensive unlawful protest and intimidation”. This is despite the Gloucestershire Police confirming yesterday that there were only three arrests during the cull and most protest activity was conducted lawfully.
 
The Chief Vet, Nigel Gibbens has stated that despite this year’s failure, the Gloucestershire cull should go ahead as long as “there are reasonable grounds for confidence that it can be carried out more effectively in 2015”. This is despite this year’s cull being no more effective or humane than last years. The shooters took almost twelve hours to shoot each badger they killed and had to set each trap more than 50 times for each badger they trapped and shot.
 
THE NFU have blamed the failure on both protestors and there being far fewer badgers than had been estimated originally. Earlier in the cull they blamed the slow start on the full moon! Despite all of this they are pressing for other areas in Gloucestershire to be included in a wider cull in 2015.
 
Make no mistake, the cull will go ahead again in 2015 if the Conservative government is re-elected.
 
A few days ago the usually well informed Guardian have suggested that the cull operators are planning to start the cull in June in 2015 with the intention of targeting badger cubs which will be much easier to trap and shoot. Experts suggest that this will solely be about increasing numbers when in fact most cubs are not infected with bTB. As usual it’s not about the science or what works.
 
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/10/badger-cubs-to-be-shot-in-latest-cull-plan
 
becky
Former Defra secretary Owen Paterson received a severance deal of more than £38k after he was ousted from his post in the summer, Farmers Weekly has learned.
 
According to figures obtained from a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, Mr Paterson was given a severance payment of £38,804.77 when Norfolk MP Liz Truss replaced him in July.
 
A proponent of the badger cull, Paterson was the main instigator of the current badger culling taking place in England.
 
Mr Paterson’s payout is:
More than twice the average Less Favoured Area livestock *farm business income in 2013-14
 
£9,300 more than the average *farm business income for a mixed farm in 2013-14
 
*Farm Business Income represents the financial return (before accounting for the farmer’s own and other unpaid family labour) and on all capital invested in the farm business, including in land and buildings.
 
becky
So Environment Secretary, Liz Truss, gave out false information - the cost per badger was actually: £5,200 PER BADGER (COST 2013 PILOT CULLS).
 
BBC Points West: www.dailymotion.com/video/x2aahj8_bbc1-points-west-14nov14_animals
 
BBC Radio Sussex: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02bkt8h
 
Scroll to 1 hour 12 mins to listen back
 
Daily Mail: www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-2834695/Cull-cost-5-200-badger.html
 
Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/14/badger-cull-cost-over-3000-for-each-animal-killed
 
BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-30058872?post_id=100003038987658_653361671441793#_=_
 
Farmers Weekly
http://www.fwi.co.uk/livestock/badger-cull-cost-5000-per-badger.htm
 
becky
Badgers Take Centre Stage for the Next General Election.
 
From arrogance to silence - how much difference a year can make when it comes to killing badgers.
 
A year ago the former Defra secretary of state Owen Paterson was in a very bullish mood concerning the badger cull policy. The first year of the pilot culls had been completed in Gloucestershire & Somerset and he was telling MPs that they had been a great success and he was preparing for a national roll out of the policy.
 
Twelve months on, Owen Paterson has gone, the victim of his own arrogance, to be replaced by the younger and less experienced Liz Truss.
 
Rather than bold statements concerning the success and importance of badger culling, Liz seems to have completely lost her voice on this highly contentious issue.
 
Read more from Dominic Dyer at: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dominic-dyer/badger-cull_b_6150426.html
 
becky
Badgers Take Centre Stage for the Next General Election.
 
From arrogance to silence - how much difference a year can make when it comes to killing badgers.
 
A year ago the former Defra secretary of state Owen Paterson was in a very bullish mood concerning the badger cull policy. The first year of the pilot culls had been completed in Gloucestershire & Somerset and he was telling MPs that they had been a great success and he was preparing for a national roll out of the policy.
 
Twelve months on, Owen Paterson has gone, the victim of his own arrogance, to be replaced by the younger and less experienced Liz Truss.
 
Rather than bold statements concerning the success and importance of badger culling, Liz seems to have completely lost her voice on this highly contentious issue.
 
Read more from Dominic Dyer at: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dominic-dyer/badger-cull_b_6150426.html
 
becky
Read the letter to the Prime Minister on bTB and the Badger Cull from a group of 26 eminent scientists and vets. They are urging the government to abandon badger culling and instead focus on cattle-based measures to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle....
 
http://carolineallengreenlondon.blogspot.com.tr/2014/11/letter-to-prime-minister-on-badger-cull.html?m=1
 
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mark-jones/badger-culls_b_6128576.html?utm_hp_ref=tw
 
becky
Huw’s Speech to Stroud Labour and GABs 15th September 2014
 
Where the Coalition are failing, Labour will Tackle Bovine Tb
 
Thank you very much for inviting me here this afternoon, it’s good to see you all including our fantastic PPC for Stroud, David Drew.
Last week David Cameron’s failed badger-culls started for the second year.
 
The coalition government is blundering ahead with two culls this year, as a precursor to 40 widespread culls in the years that lie ahead.
The choice is now clear: The next General Election will determine whether widespread mass-culling of badgers takes place across the countryside for many years to come: culls based on two chaotic pilots last year which were a catastrophic, unscientific and costly failure.
Labour will do things differently, and more effectively, working with farmers and wildlife groups and others to turn around and eradicate Bovine Tb. There is a viable alternative way, but we need farmers and their unions and associations to engage fully and sign up to a long-term programme. It will not be easy, nor quick, but we will defeat Tb without mass-culling if there is a will to do so in the farming and wider community.
 
When Owen Paterson was dismissed from his post as Secretary of State, there was a glimmer of a hope that his replacement might bring a new line of thinking to the problem of bovine Tb and the controversial badger culls. Or at the very least that the new Defra boss Lizz Truss, having no detailed knowledge of the matter but having witnessed from afar the car-crash which was the pilot badger culls last year, would pause to examine the pros and cons before racing headlong into disaster again. The Secretary of State could make her own mind up.
 
But no. Any hope was forlorn. Within 48 hours of her appointment, Liz Truss stood at the despatch box in parliament and announced “We are progressing with our programme [of culls]” and trotting out the line “We must use every tool in our toolbox”. “Every tool” is now the Tory/LibDem euphemism for “badger cull”. It could have been Owen Paterson all over again.
 
Scientists and many others critical of the failed badger culls were astonished, and truly disappointed. Had the new Secretary of State managed to review the evidence on such a controversial and scientifically-contested policy in such a short space of time? Or had she just followed the script, swallowed the hype, and slotted in flexibly where her predecessor had left off. Or even worse, had she been told by David Cameron to just get on with it?
 
Here was a golden opportunity for the new Defra Secretary to make her mark, and show that she would revert to evidence-based policy, instead of selecting the evidence to match the failing policy. When challenged further in parliament by Shadow Secretary of State Maria Eagle to at least extend the role of the Independent Expert Panel to oversee this summer’s continuation of the culls, she declined. What could she be afraid of from independent oversight?
 
This year’s culls will be every bit as catastrophic for farmers, taxpayers and wildlife as last year’s pilots. The lack of independent oversight is just the latest shameful indictment of this government’s lackadaisical approach to science and monitoring. It is also compounds the reasons why these extended culls have zero scientific credibility, and why Labour cannot support them, and will not continue them in government.
Liz Truss missed a golden opportunity to rethink Bovine Tb. She has led the government back into the same disastrous cull-de-sac as Owen Paterson.
 
One final point on the latest Secretary of State (the third of this government so far). She recently repeated the blatant lie that Labour did nothing on Bovine Tb for thirteen years. We spent 10 years and £50m scientifically testing the case for culls, and the conclusion was that culls could make no meaningful contribution to eradicating Tb. The Tories must have been asleep for that ten years. But let’s not forget what happened just last year, and be clear that it was the policy-failure of ministers - not farmers - that the pilot culls proceeded and were such a catastrophic failure.
 
Defra’s own guidelines on the culls were that they had to be carried out in a short period of six weeks and eliminate 70% of the badger population in any cull area to be effective. Yet both culls in Gloucester and Somerset missed the deadlines and – against the clear guidelines issued by Defra themselves – were extended by up to a total of 13 weeks. Despite this astonishing extension the cull targets were missed again, with only 65% culled in Somerset and less than 40% in Gloucestershire. Failed. Extended. Failed again.
Do bear in mind that the culls were designed to test the effectiveness of free-shooting of badgers, not least because this was regarded by the government as a more cost-effective way of culling. Yet it was realised within days of the initial pilots that this method was failing badly, and the more expensive method of cage-trap and shoot was urgently resorted to in order to boost the cull numbers. So the very method which the pilots were set up to test – the free-shooting of badgers – was in effect abandoned. It does not work. The government have given up on testing it.
So it is no surprise that we learned that bulk orders of cages had been made in advance of the latest culls by the government this year.
But of course the cage-trap-shoot approach is very expensive. In fact, when all costs (including significant policing costs) are factored in most observers believe the cost per badger is well in excess of viable alternative Tb control methods, such as badger vaccination. For some reason the government still remains shy about the total costs, but some estimates have put the cost per badger culled at £4300.
 
So, the pilots failed badly on their own measures of effectiveness. The government’s own Independent Expert Panel (IEP) told us that in their scathing report on the trial. The same report by the same Independent Experts told us that the trials had also failed on humaneness: too many badgers were dying lingering deaths; not enough clean shots.
When Defra’s own Independent Expert Panel tells the government that they’ve failed on two out of their own three measures (the third was safety - no one was hurt during the free-shoot pilots) is it then any wonder that the expert panel are not invited to continue their monitoring of the trials this year?
 
As an aside, on the safety issue (the one measure which the culls did not fail on) there is currently an investigation into allegations of cull marksmen with loaded guns pursuing badgers outside the licensed cull area across a golf course. Surely the third measure – safety – is not about to be retrospectively failed too?
 
The Chair of Natural England’s Science Advisory Committee, Professor David McDonald, has called the cull an “epic failure”.
 
There is now a long and growing list of eminent scientists speaking out against the culls, on the evidence that not only are they failing, but they could indeed worsen the spread of Tb in badgers and heighten the risk of spread to cattle. For these eminent scientists, leading experts in fields such as badger ecology and the epidemiology of Tb, observing this government’s approach to policy is to see the world turned upside down.
Can we at least learn anything from the culls last year about the prevalence of Tb in the culled badger population? Not really. Of the nearly 2000 badgers eventually killed only 4 were tested for Tb, and only one had the disease. We learnt nothing. Rigorous scientific evaluation and evidence-gathering has been stamped out by this government in these culls. Shameful.
 
But Labour has said consistently that TB in cattle will need to be tackled by both cattle measures and also by addressing the disease where appropriate in wildlife. It is simply that there is another way. A way that does not need widespread and fairly indiscriminate culling, that has broad scientific support, and which is gaining an evidence-base for its effectiveness.
 
In Wales a different approach is being taken, based on cattle measures (including strict movement controls, bio-security and annual cattle-testing) combined with vaccination of badgers. Even though it is too early to say that the vaccinations are yet effective, the cattle measures alone already appear to be assisting a reduction in incidence of Bovine Tb. We should be cautious, but it is encouraging.
 
We need a way forward that truly offers the promise of reversing the upward trend in Bovine Tb and eradicating this disease, which works with the science instead of against it, which does not squander taxpayer money, and which does not alienate the public from farmers.
The work in Wales – which has stringent scientific monitoring – builds upon the existing long-term trials (often volunteer-led) by organisations like the Wildlife Trusts and willing farmers around the country. There is a groundswell of goodwill behind this approach, as well as a growing body of evidence and scientific opinion.
 
A policy of more rigorous cattle surveillance, control & bio-security measures combined with vaccination of badgers should be the mainstay of a long-term Tb eradication policy. At the same time, other viable approaches such as the development of effective cattle-vaccination and testing and the removal of scientific and political hurdles to that end need to be pursued.
 
There is no doubt that Bovine Tb is a scourge of farming, and that beyond the impact on cattle the effect on some farmers can be devastating. To speak to farmers who have seen much-loved pedigree herds infected with Tb, or smaller-scale dairy-farmers where the disease can prove to be the tipping-point commercially, leaves no doubt that we need to eradicate Bovine Tb.
 
Policy-makers must listen to farmers – and farmers do not hold one view on this – but then base the way forward on evidence not intuition, and on the probability of success, not on political expediency. That means taking a different approach to BTb, and doing it urgently.
 
That alternative way is there, should we choose to take it. Labour will continue to advocate this better way forward, and will put it into place if elected. We will work with farmers and wildlife trusts and others to do so, and we will work with the evidence.
 
There is a better way. Better for farmers, for taxpayers, for wildlife.
It will not happen under this government. It will under Labour.

 
becky
The Annual Report GB Cattle Health & Welfare Group 2012 shows which diseases most concern farmers and - surprise, surprise - it is not bovine TB - so we are being misled by this government ...?
 
Top Ten - with no mention of bovine TB (source: various industry bodies)
 
Fertility
Mastitis
Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheltis
Bovine Viral Diarrhea
Johne's Disease (another Microbacteria and can cuase adverse reaction with bTB skin test)
Liver Fluke
Nutrition
Calf Pneumonia
Calf Scour
Parasitic Gastroenteritis/Lungworm
 
 
https://twitter.com/Rethinkbtb/status/506170924362911744/photo/1
 

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