The latest outbreak is still headline news, with the depressing announcement of the discovery of a second affected herd. Being unvaccinated, it too has been culled, and because smoking funeral pyres of cattle are now politically-damaging, the extraordinary decision has been made to move the carcases to Somerset for incineration. How the Somerset beef and dairy farmers must like that.
The Telegraph has opened a thread under Your View, also accessible under the headline article, asking if we think the crisis is being handled properly this time. Here is my second contribution, submitted a few minutes ago, less bland than yesterday's.
"The policy of culling all suspect animals, instead of vaccinating beforehand as a precaution, was one discussed extensively at the start of the 2001 outbreak. We were told that vaccination could mask symptoms, and cause disease to spread further than it otherwise would, and if my memory serves me well, that was considered the clinching argument.
There were others, however, who claimed that the real clincher, behind closed doors, was the special pleading of the cattle farmers, who wished to preserve the status of the UK as F&M-free, and with it their export markets. What we were not told at the time was the cost to the taxpayer of pursuing that policy.
We now know it was some £8 billion - an extraordinary sum of money- just one billion short of the current estimate of hosting the 2012 Olympics. That worked out at something like £1300 for every man, woman and child in the country. Speaking for myself, as someone who probably eats no more than £100 worth of beef a year, I resent having paid some 13 times that amount in extra tax and for what ? Answer: to make compensatation payments to someone else's private-enterprise profit-making business, in which I get no share of the proceeds in the good years, but am expected to act as insurer of last resort when things go wrong.
If farmers wish to continue in this way, with F&M an ever ticking time- bomb that can wipe out millions of animals at a stroke, and make huge dents in the nation's GDP, then why are we, the taxpayer, expected to underwrite this mad exercise in national chauvinism ? Let the farmers arrange private insurance if they wish to play Russian roulette with microbiology. If they won't then let's switch to a policy of vaccination now, and set up research programmes that permit earlier detection of F&M, and restrict movement of animals and carcases except when absolutely necessary."
Update Wed 8th Aug
Have just spotted the following on Orange, one of those handy aggregation sites:
Blogs round-up: foot-and-mouth returns
Posted by Dom Passantino
With a second bout of foot-and-mouth disease confirmed at a farm in Surrey, the bloggers have had plenty to say about the countryside outbreak. Here’s our pick of the blogosphere’s best comments on the topic.
“If farmers wish to continue in this way, with F&M an ever ticking time- bomb that can wipe out millions of animals at a stroke, and make huge dents in the nation's GDP, then why are we, the taxpayer, expected to underwrite this mad exercise in national chauvinism? Let the farmers arrange private insurance if they wish to play Russian roulette with microbiology.”
From Dreams and Daemons
It's nice to be noticed !
Tuesday, August 07, 2007