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Vested interests?

 Added by  Sally
 30 Aug 2010, 6:16 PM

Who is benefitting financially from the existing eradication programme for bovine TB?
According to a report in Farmers Weekly (www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/22/06/2012/133557/Welsh-farmers-question-rising-bTB-valuer-fees.htmhe fees paid to bovine TB valuers in Wales have risen by 154% in the last five years.
The disclosure has promoted Glamorgan milk producer Andrew R T Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservative Group at the Welsh Assembly, to demand an explanation.
Figures show fees have increased from £158,000 in 2007-08 to £401,000 in 2011-12, even though the total compensation paid out by the Welsh Government has gradually declined, from a high point of almost £24m in 2008-09 to just over £13m last year.
Mr Davies is calling on environment minister John Griffiths to make a ministerial statement on what he describes as a substantial rise.
He said the public was entitled to question why the costs had risen so much.
According to Farming Life, (www.farminglife.com/news/bovine-tb-eradication-a-priority-for-byrne-1-3911459) SDLP West Tyrone MLA Joe Byrne, who has been appointed to the post of deputy chair of the Assembly’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, has made Bovine TB eradication his priority.
Of particular note is his comment:
“For 60 years, we have poured tens of millions of pounds into an eradication programme which has failed, in no small part because vets on lucrative testing contracts have no incentive to move us beyond a so-called “acceptable level” of disease in our cattle stocks.
“I will be tirelessly urging the minister to put into place a very robust strategy, with SMART targets, which works towards the full eradication of Bovine TB in the north.
“Our agriculture and agri-food sectors are among the most buoyant in our economy and I am looking forward to playing my part in not only sustaining that buoyancy but making it the envy of Europe – and making sure that we have the wherewithal to combat and eradicate the most costly and insidious diseases in our livestock is a key part in shoring up our sector.
“The collective aim for the minister, the committee and the sector must be for the north to enjoy the Bovine TB-free status that Scotland has enjoyed since 2009.”
A blog that is well worth reading is that by Dr Gareth Enticott, a research fellow at Cardiff University. He is interested in farmers, vets, policy makers and conservationists deal with and make sense of animal health on a day to day basis and what this means for the future of animal health and rural places in the UK. He is particularly interested in bovine tuberculosis. Two blogs that reveal just how much vets rely on income from the skin test are worth reading (see links below). The blog is looking at the recent announcement of Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) to consult on the proposals to require vets to compete with each other for TB tests.
1. http://biosecurityresearch.blogspot.com/2011/09/ov-procurement-what-it-could-mean-for.html
2. http://biosecurityresearch.blogspot.com/2011/10/lots-and-networks-ov-procurement-part-2.html
'Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) is seeking views from private veterinary practioners and the farming industry on its proposed approach to competitive tendering for TB testing services in England. Additionally, the agency would like to share its thinking on developing a more collaborative and strategic approach to working with private veterinary practices who carry out vital work on behalf of the agency ...'
' ...AHVLA is continuing discussions with the Welsh Government on the approach that will be taken in Wales and will make a further announcement in due course'
interesting email from farmer PPL 24/7/11
A major part of the problem is the constraining EU rules governing exports and seeking bTB status for the country. We should seek disease free status for the farm with Pre movement testing allied to four yearly herd cycles. Most farms never export. Many beef farms are suckled and/or fully closed. Most dairy farms never will export or show or distribute stock other than to the food chain. The overall policy and governmental interpretation of the policy is using a shot gun when a snipers rifle is needed. My policy would be to subsidise wildlife exclusion costs rather than eradication, stop contigous and short period testing, stop unnecessary compulsory slaughter, stop compensation and put the onus on the breeder to preserve or recover bTB status- or to sell himself the reactors for meat. Keep the vets out if it.
There have been numerous reports in the media and national press about alleged death threats to Adam Henson, a farmer and TV presenter from Gloucestershire, who apparently said that animal rights extremists threatened to "burn" his children after he presented a report about bovine TB on Countryfile and the link between bovine tuberculosis and badgers.
Speaking at a farmers' conference in Cornwall (a hot spot for bTB with many farmers affected), Adam Henson is reported to have said: "There are some very nasty extremists about. I have had some serious hate letters from them - things like, 'We are going to burn your children'." A spokesman for the Thames Valley police force said: “We do not think he has reported the threats. We would encourage anybody to report such crimes so that they can be thoroughly investigated.”
Adam Henson is a popular presenter on Countryfile and it was not surprising that the death threat comment attracted masses of publicity. However, such comments and subsequent reporting do not do anything to help the debate. Why can't all involved start to work together to resolve this issue? There must be a compromise that will suit all concerned and Henson agrees for just days later a news item in the Cotswold Journal (http://www.cotswoldjournal.co.uk/news/ - Adam Henson farms in the Cotswolds) it is reported that Henson regretted making these remarks after seeing all the national publicity it attracted. His administration manager at the park, Paula Jarvis, is reported to have said: “It was a comment made to a group of farmers, taken out of all proportion.” In a statement Henson said: “The point I made was to express my concern that extreme views from farmers and conservationists, arguing politicians and scientists was divisive in the quest to solve TB in the British countryside. We all need to work together and there will inevitably have to be some compromise to solve this hugely emotive subject. I am obviously concerned about any threats made to me and my family, but my aim is to continue to report on the effects of TB in an impartial and balanced manner.”
http://swns.com/bbc-presenters-death-threats-from-animal-rights-extremists-091115.html" target="_blank">http://swns.com/bbc-presenters-death-threats-from-animal-rights-extremists-091115.html

Biggest salary then is the WAG's Chief Vet which ties in with report published in many of the media outlets today from the think-tank Policy Exchange. They apparently found that PUBLIC sector workers are earning up to 35% more (calculated on hourly pay) than those in the private sector. The study claims that 2009 was the first year in which average pay for public sector workers was on average higher than for all private sector workers despite the Government's attempt to restrain pay .
We thought it would be interesting to compare some of the salaries of those involved with the bovine TB policy.
According to web reports the annual average incomes for farmers are around £20,000 but there are many variables that affect this, including the size of the farm, type of farm and whether or not it is a tenancy. The average salary of a vet is around £40,000 and can include a car and accommodation. The average pay of a civil servant (lay testers and admin staff) is around £25,000.
According to a Request for information ATI 5029 dated 3/5/11 WAG's Chief VET has a salary range of £58,200 to £117,800. This is currently C Glossop who is driving the infamous bovine TB policy in Wales. Interestingly her post, along with all Senior Civil Service post holders within the Welsh Assembly Government, is eligible for consideration for a variable pay award. These awards are available within the Senior Civil Service performance-related pay system and the overall pay bill increases are determined each year by HM Treasury. Part of the annual pay award must be paid as non consolidated payment to those who have achieved defined objectives over the reporting year. The criteria for variable pay is determined within the framework set by HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office for the year in question, which requires a specified proportion of the SCS pay bill to be paid in the form of variable pay. It is awarded within a pool scheme based on performance, i.e. achievement of objectives agreed between the individual and his or her line manager. These objectives are linked to organisation wide priorities and business targets. They are non-consolidated awards paid in addition to any base pay increases. Variable pay is paid as a lump sum and does not count towards pension entitlements.
It should be noted that not all members of the Senior Civil Service receive variable pay awards.
Under the Freedom of Informtion Act we asked (email dated 8/5/11) if the current Chief Vet post holder received performance related pay in the last financial year and if so, the amount paid. We received an emailed response (ref (ATISN) 5110) on 7/6/11 that stated; 'I have decided that this information is personal information and is exempt from disclosure. The information is personal information about a third party and is being withheld under Section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act. The full argument for applying this exemption was set out in an annex. However, as this is a key public appointment one does wonder why it must be shrouded in secrecy?

I came across an article on the web (http://www.thefreelibrary.com/I+want+bTB+to+be+my+epitaph%3B+CHIEF+VET+OUTLINES+HER+AMBITIONS.-a0218164764) recently about Dr Christianne Glossop, the WAG's Chief Vet masterminding the bovine TB eradication policy. She certainly has a vested interest in all this. Interestingly the article, by Andrew Forgrave, is entitled 'I want bTb to be my epitaph'.
We are told she had two appointments at the SVS (now Animal Health) followed by her elevation to the top job in Wales in 2005. Since then her feet have barely touched the ground. 'For animal disease connoisseurs, it's been a golden age: BSE, avian flu, more FMD, to name but a few', it says. But always lurking in the background was bovine TB.
"Eradication of TB," Glossop insists, "That's what I want on my tombstone." Rather an egotistical, narcissistic desire! No mention of or concern shown for the misery being caused to cattle owners and their animals as a result of her policy.

and vets are heavily involved in advising on all the so called biosecurity measures we are expected to undertake, with visits for many of us! All of these are basic common sense and I found it all an insult to my intelligence and unnecessary interference into how I run my farm! Wouldn't fact sheets or articles in farming press suffice and be less costly for any of us that do need to be told about such measures?!
Don't forget vets also get paid for all the movement testing we now have to put up with. THIS HAS TO BE DONE AT OUR EXPENSE - IT IS NOT PAID FOR BY THE GOVERNMENT.
According to the Freedom of Information request dated 19/01/11 ref: RFI 3725 & RFI 3749, the following companies are the only ones to supply the tuberculin used in the skin test.
EXTRACTED FROM RESPONSE The series of studies performed by Lesslie and co-workers and later published in the Veterinary Record underpinned the changeover in 1975 from ‘mammalian’ (M. tuberculosis) to ‘bovine’ (M. bovis) tuberculin produced by VLA Weybridge. This became, along avian Weybridge tuberculin, the only antigen used in the detection of cattle infected with Mycobacterium bovis in Great Britain until October 2005 (see below).
The formulation of tuberculins at VLA Weybridge remained essentially the same since 1975, i.e. using the same strain of M. bovis, same basic tuberculin production method and broadly the same nominal potency as stipulated in the European legislation and Pharmacopoeia).
In the summer of 2005, after difficulties with the production of tuberculin at VLA Weybridge, Defra began to source paired stocks of bovine and avian tuberculins from ID-Lelystad in The Netherlands. These stocks started to be used in herds across GB from October 2005 and were alternated with Weybridge tuberculins for release to veterinarians on a strict temporal basis, dependent on the shelf life of the available stocks from each manufacturer. The alternate use of both tuberculins continued in GB until the production of Weybridge tuberculin at VLA ceased and stocks eventually ran out in September 2009. Since then, Dutch tuberculin from ID-Lelystad (now owned by Prionics) has been the only antigen used in the UK bovine TB testing programme (and it had also been in use in Ireland for many years before it started to replace Weybridge tuberculin in the UK).
The following extract relates to the TB Health Check Wales which ran from 1 October 2008 to 31 December 2009. It is from 'WAG's Executive Summary for the TB Health Check Wales Reports' and reveals just how much the veterinary practices benefitted financially from the increased testing. It was probably not surprising therefore that 85% of practices agreed it was worthwhile. Perhaps of greater significance is the 15% who did not agree it was worthwhile.
'2. The Veterinary Laboratories Agency Spatial Analysis arising from TB
Health Check Wales
Key Findings
• 85% of veterinary practices agreed the TB Health Check Wales was
• The average income per practice for TB testing in 2007 was £44,625. By the
end of the TB Health Check Wales, this figure had risen to £76,076.
• Overall, there is little evidence that the TB Health Check Wales impacted
negatively on their business. Practices did express concern about the impact
of the HCW upon staff satisfaction as a result of increased testing.
• Most practices agreed that an annual testing regime should remain in force
following the TB Health Check Wales. They also agreed that all cattle
movements into Wales should be subject to a bovine TB test.
• Practices also expressed a desire to be more involved in the management of
bovine TB breakdowns and providing advice to farmers and that information
on bovine TB breakdowns locations should be provided to farmers.'
On 10 October 2010 (email) the following questions were asked under the Freedom of Information Act 2006.
1. The number of abattoirs, and amount paid to each, in the different areas of England and Wales which have contracts relating to collection of animals re bTB policy.
2. The number of research projects on any aspect of bovine TB reasearch funded, part funded or given grants by the Government and the title of each over the last five years.
3. The costs of all admin/DEFRA/WAG/Animal Health testers, enforcement departments etc dealing with any aspect of bTB over the last 3 years.
The response (email 28/10/10) was
1. The number of abattoirs and amount paid to each, in the different areas of England
and Wales which have contracts relating to collection of animals re bTB policy?
Here is a list of the current slaughterhouses used in England and Wales. I am unable to
supply you with the amount paid to each one as this information is confidential and so is
withheld under Exemption s41 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and hence the Data
Protection Act 1998. This is an Absolute Exemption within the FOI Act 2000. The Data
Protection Act requires Animal Health to lawfully and fairly process confidential data, and as
such we cannot release this data unless a suitable Exemption in the Act applies. No such
Exemption in the Act applies in this instance.
Slaughterhouses currently used in
England and Wales
Cleveland Meats
J A Jewitt Meat Ltd
Duerden Wholesale Meats
Beeson Ltd
Woolley Brothers
Pickstock Ltd
Sargeant & Sons
Mutch Meats
Cig Calon
Pembrokeshire Meats
2. The number of research projects on any aspect of bovine TB research funded, part
funded or given grants by the Government and the title of each over the last five years?
A list of all the bovine TB-related research projects is available on the Defra TB website:
At the bottom of that page, there is a table of all the projects completed since 1999 (listed
in descending chronological order of completion):
Likewise, for ongoing TB research, go to the following PDF table, also on the same web
Additionally, I believe that there are two further ongoing projects which have not yet been
incorporated into that list:
 CB0115: Field trial to assess the safety and efficacy of BCG vaccine administered
 CB0116: Efficacy testing of BCG in badgers
3. The costs of all admin/DEFRA/WAG/Animal Health testers, enforcement departments
etc dealing with any aspect of bTB over the last 3 years?
I am afraid that this question is too broad to be answered. In order to provide you with the
information on the scale that you have requested would require approaching each policy
area within Defra, Wag, Local Authorities and all Animal Health Offices within England and
Section 12 of the Act makes provision for public authorities to refuse requests for
information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed the appropriate limit, which
is set at £600. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 3.5 working days
in determining whether the department holds the information, locating, retrieving and
extracting the information.
You may wish to refine your request by narrowing its scope by being more specific about
what information you particularly wish to obtain, including any dates or period of time
relevant to the information required.
On the 7 October the following request was made as the figures did not look correct.
Please can you get the figures checked for accuracy or explain as applicable? The number of “OV” veterinary practices paid in Wales is stated to be 16,393. Is this correct? If you divide the amount of fees paid for all Wales (N + S) by this you get £308 each – perhaps enough for one visit to one small herd each!
On the 8th October the response received was:
Sorry this is entirely my fault, I misread the request – the email should have read “number of tests paid to OV practices”, i.e. 16,393 tests paid in Wales with an average cost per test of £308
The number of veterinary practices this relates to is 124 in Wales and 504 in England (of which 267 in South West and West Midlands). Apologies for the confusion caused!
The following Access to Information was requested on 28/9/10
Please could you provide the following information:
1. The amount of money paid to veterinary practices in England and Wales for TB testing over the last 3 years.
2. The number of veterinary practices that benefit from this income, and if possible an area by area list.
Animal Health responded (ref AH089) on 4/10/10
I enclose a copy of the information you requested:
1. The amount of money paid to veterinary practices in England and Wales for TB testing
over the last 3 years?
2. The number of veterinary practices that benefit from this income, and if possible an
area by area list?
Please see below the OV expenditure on bTB (net test cost) by region for the past 3 years
Region 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
North Wales 763,140 1,376,072 1,608,938
South Wales 2,563,615 3,174,871 3,450,756
East 115,851 110,106 142,434
East Midlands 857,276 894,626 951,016
North East 156,897 152,058 114,497
North West 834,823 849,729 888,327
South East 384,746 373,200 442,241
South West 6,497,255 7,726,920 8,088,212
West Midlands 2,784,481 3,398,428 3,470,728
Yorks &
Humber 311,597 226,827 300,652
TOTAL 15,269,681 18,282,835 19,457,801
Total number of OV practices paid for bTB related work this financial year to date has been 16,393
in Wales and 51,453 in England of which 37,786 are based in the West Midlands and South West
regions where the biggest concentrations of bTB are found.

The final report (dated 25 May 2005) from the University of Exeter regarding 'An Economic Impact Assessment of Bovine
Tuberculosis in South West England' by Andrew Sheppard and Martin Turner (report costs £25! It is available from http://centres.exeter.ac.uk/crpr/news/latest/TBPRelease.pdf), involved interviewing three veterinary practices in their survey for the report. Below is an extract from the report:
'Veterinary practices (3)
2.92 All three practices had substantial farm animal business and all reported an increase in their own business as a result of TB testing, ranging from ten to 25 per cent. All had taken on extra staff to handle the workload and were happy to have done so; also that Defra is passing TB work back to local vets, not re-employing their own temporary vets.
2.93 One vet commented on the positive animal welfare benefits of visiting farms not less than once a year for TB testing and of being on the farm long enough – including over lunchtime – to have some social contact with farmers.
2.94 On the negative side, one vet reported that the work is repetitive and qualified vets don’t like to be doing just TB testing, but that they can find themselves doing around 20 tests a week over four working days. The same vet and another also remarked that working to the timetable set by Defra is not always satisfactory, with pressures put on them by the threat that farmers will be placed under restrictions if the test is not carried out by a certain date. One also noted that vets are concerned that cattle numbers increase when farms are put under restrictions, which has animal welfare implications, and that testing at 60 day intervals stresses animals, vets and farmers.'
For information the other 'stakeholders' mentioned as being involved in the bTB programme (with either positive or negative effects) include the following:
Veterinary practices
Livestock hauliers
Cheese makers
General agricultural supplier
Supplier of animal feed
Agricultural engineers
Artificial insemination company
Milk quota buying, selling and leasing
Calf dealer
Auctioneers, valuers, chartered surveyors
Insurance company
Meat and Livestock Commission
Women’s Farming Union
Farm-based tourist attractions
District Council Tourism Offices
Promotion of B&B and self-catering farm accommodation
Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution
Agricultural chaplain
Rural Stress Information Network
Farm Crisis Network

Many veterinary practices undertake routine testing and are paid to do this by the government. However, in a report in the Farmers Guardian (http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/livestock/livestock-news/tfa-attacks-plans-to-cut-local-vets-out-of-tb-testing/33723.article), Jim Paice Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. has been urged to re-think plans to use more state vets to test cattle for bovine TB. The Tenant Farmers Association has written to Mr Paice to protest against proposals to take responsibility for TB testing away from local vets. New arrangements are to be introduced requiring that all herds of more than 100 animals should be tested by a State Veterinary Officer as opposed to a private veterinary practitioner, TFA said. TFA chief executive George Dunn said, while the motive for the change was unclear, the association presumed the intention was to cut costs.
There is concern about the impact on local veterinary practices for which TB testing had become ‘part of their bread and butter’. Taking TB testing work away from local vets could force them to significantly increase their costs to the livestock industry for other services.

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