Bovine TB and badgers

The Truth About Badgers, Farmers, TB And The Government

by Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc

2011 July

There probably won't be any badgers in England soon. The Farming Minister, someone called Jim Paice, has announced that as few as 5% of all badgers could survive in the areas where badgers are to be killed. My bet is that the trigger happy farmers will wipe out the lot.

The cull starts in June 2012 and the plan is to allow farmers to kill as many badgers as they can. Farmers who have a badger killing licence must commit themselves to killing at least 70% of the badgers in the area covered by their licence.

Since our elected Government has chosen to make a real effort to eliminate a wonderful wild animal from our countryside it seems a good time to look at the facts - and the reason why this is happening.

The Government claims that in 2010, 25,000 cattle were slaughtered because of bovine TB. This was, allegedly, at enormous `emotional cost' to farmers though to be honest I don't quite understand why it is that farmers are happy to treat their animals with wicked, wanton cruelty and then cry buckets when they die inconvenient deaths. Why do these sensitive farmers not provide shelter for their cattle? Why do these sensitive farmers allow their much-loved cattle to be shipped off to abattoirs in barbaric cattle lorries?

The truth is that the bastard farmers only ever become emotionally involved with their animals when it provides good public relations copy and helps them gouge more money out of taxpayers. (Do you remember all those farmers `crying' buckets when their sheep were killed in the foot and mouth fiasco?)

Here are the real facts about badgers, TB (tuberculosis) and cattle.

Fact 1: Cattle get TB because they are kept in appallingly crowded conditions. (TB was common among humans in the 19th century because people were kept in appalling crowded conditions.)
Fact 2: There is no evidence that cattle contract TB from badgers. Farmers say it is so but they don't actually have any evidence other than them saying it is so. In fact, the evidence shows that cattle don't get TB from badgers and that a cull of badgers won't make a damn of difference to the incidence of TB in cattle. Farmers don't much like scientific evidence and they lie a lot anyway. For example, they say that eating meat is good for you when the evidence proves conclusively that people who eat meat are more likely to develop cancer.
Fact 3: When cattle are found to have TB they are killed. The farmer is compensated for his sad loss with taxpayers' money. Heaven knows why. Paying off greedy farmers cost taxpayers 90 million in 2010. Since 25,000 cattle were slaughtered, this means that the cost to the taxpayer is 3,600 per cow. That's considerably more than a healthy cow is worth. Farmers have a financial interest in blaming badgers for a problem they themselves have caused though bad animal husbandry.
Fact 4: The nation would be much healthier if the Government organised a cull of cattle farmers. Taxpayers should be licensed to get rid of these venal vermin. The national incidence of cancer would fall by around a third and the country would save billions.
Fact 5: Farmers blame badgers for their cattle contracting TB for two reasons. First, it means they can claim compensation from unfortunate taxpayers. Second, it means they don't have to change the appallingly bad farming practices which are actually responsible for the spread of TB among cattle.
Fact 6: The Government plans to kill at least 95% of all badgers, and farmers hope that this will result in a 16% reduction in the incidence of bovine TB. Why such low expectations? Well, the farmers want to be able to keep claiming huge fees for cattle allegedly killed by taxpayer owned badgers. If anyone seriously thought that badgers, tuberculosis and cows were really linked they would expect that a 95% cull of badgers would damned near wipe out cattle TB.
Fact 7: The Government claims that the badgers will be shot in the wild by marksmen. Marksmen! The badgers are going to be shot by half-witted farmers who probably couldn't hit a barn door at 50 paces. Most of the badgers will be wounded and will die in great pain in their dens. The Government is allowing half-witted farmers to shoot the badgers in the wild because it costs a tenth as much as trapping the badgers and then killing them.

Those are the undeniable, incontrovertible facts.

What a disgusting, disgraceful scandal. Cattle farmers are as bad as bankers and we should loathe them just as much. Please tell your friends to read this article. There's still time to stop the mass slaughter of the innocent badgers. This is far more wicked than the Government's daft plan to sell off our forests. They changed their minds about that. We can make them change their minds about this too. Farmers may have the best lobbyists but we have most of the votes.

Stand up for badgers! Or soon there won't be any.

Copyright Vernon Coleman July 21st 2011