Double Standards at DEFRA

The lead news story in the 20th June 2008 edition of the Farmers Weekly, reports that DEFRA advice to veterinary officials & their clients is at odds with their official line, showing that the government is well aware that badgers play a major role in the transmission of bovine tuberculosis (TB).

While animal activists have disputed the badgers’ role in the transmission of TB & DEFRA has always insisted that the main way to tackle the disease is through the testing and culling of cattle, with the bean-eating Mr Benn who is in charge of livestock – as part of his brief as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, (and who in their right mind put a man that has not eaten meat or fish for 36 years & whose constituency Leeds Central, is an inner-city constituency, in charge of the country’s livestock farming?) going as far as to say he is “not convinced by the science” for a cull. Yet of the 26 points made in the DEFRA produced Bovine TB Husbandry Best Practice Guide 23 focus directly on the risk of infection spread presented by badgers, just 2 points, at the end, are devoted to cattle to cattle transmission and there is only a single point on pre-movement testing. This completely undermines Hilary Benn’s dithering on the thorny issue of badger culling!

Jonathan Riley – News Editor of Farmers Weekly commented:

“… this government seems frozen into inaction by the strident claims of the wildlife lobby, a lobby that would rather see infected badgers struggle to live, while thousands dairy animals are slaughtered , under a policy that is so clearly failing to work.”

The content leaves no doubt that DEFRA knows how big a problem badger to cattle transmission is. West Country farmer Jilly Greed whose herd has suffered a recent TB breakdown, said:

“Behind the scenes DEFRA obviously knows how big a problem badgers represent. Why don’t they come out and say it?
The science says cattle-to-cattle transmission accounts for just 1-2% of herd breakdowns. The remaining 98-99% of bovine TB is brought in from other sources. In other words it is brought in by badgers and this advice shows DEFRA knows that.”

Three of the warnings from DEFRA are:

  • Keep Badgers away from feed – badgers infected with TB can contaminate feed.
  • Make your farmyard less attractive to badgers – badgers are likely to be attracted to accessible feed and may spread disease to cattle.
  • Where possible keep cattle away from high risk areas such as badger latrines and active setts.

June Updates

The addition of the baptism registers for 1850 – 1904 to the site is the major addition this month; work is now underway to transcribe the marriage registers for the same period, while steady progress is being made on the 1700 – 1749 registers which has seen the publication of the years 1700 – 1709.

Visits to the site are continuing to grow at a slow but steady pace and while the mention in the Midland Ancestor has not seen a great jump in traffic it has resulted in an increase in the average number of page views per visit and a decrease in the number of bounces that the site receives.

Now that summer is here, I hope that we will be graced with some sunny weather so that it will make a few visits to Rushton practical as I would like to put another 150 – 250 memorial inscriptions on the site this year. Not to mention the fact that it is a good excuse to spend a day or two in the countryside.

No Prosecutions for Pirbright Leak!

There will be no prosecutions for the Pirbright laboratories responsible for the Foot and Mouth outbreak last year. Surrey County Council has concluded that the virus spread from a drain shared by the Institute of Animal Health and private company Merial, and it is impossible to tell which of the bodies using the site was responsible for the leak. The Council is, however, calling for “tougher regulations to make every shared site have one organisation to take overall responsibility for such matters.”

Country Land & Business Association deputy president William Worsley said:

“This is extremely worrying when you are talking about something as potentially devastating as animal disease. This decision will set a dangerous precedent for similar situations caused by the negligence of public bodies.
 
“It suggests public bodies are not subject to the same level of accountability as everyone else. This is despite a seemingly endless stream of regulations affecting rural businesses that makes managers ever more accountable for their actions.”

The official report concluded that live FMD virus leaked from faulty pipes and spread from the Pirbright site. Livestock on eight farms was infected, and the farming industry lost an estimated £100million through loss of sales, movement restrictions and extra feed costs.
 
The CLA deputy president added: “The most recent inquiry into the outbreak, by Iain Anderson who led the review into the 2001 foot and mouth crisis, called for clarity of responsibility and ownership at Pirbright.
 
“He attacked the ‘creeping degradation of standards’ at the site which he described as ‘shabby and dilapidated’ and criticised a number of bodies, including Defra, the official regulator at that time, and the Institute of Animal Health. Nonetheless there are to be no prosecutions – this is deplorable.”

Read the full story on the BBC website

The Midland Ancestor

Hot<Keys>+Hot Sources in the current edition of The Midland Ancestor, the Journal of the Birmingham and Midland Society of Genealogy and Heraldry, has this to say about www.rushtonspener.info

“… valuable information (constantly being added to) for anyone with ancestors from these parts it is also an example for those of us who have done nothing, or very little, to make the fruits of our research available to a wider audience”.

And while things have been quite on the update front over the last few weeks I can promise that I am hard at work behind the scenes and that a major update to the parish registers will be arriving in the next few weeks.

BBC Four’s Medieval Season (part 5)

This week sees the last programme in BBC Four’s Medieval Series on Thursday 15 May, 19:30-20:00  in which Dr Alixe Bovey reaches the West Country, investigating some of the myths and legends depicted on the Gough Map and discovers how these were used to legitimise wars and empires.