The answer may depend on A) where you are in the country and B) your primary motivation for being interested, controlling disease in cattle or protecting badgers from culling.
What qualifies a nature conservationist from Cornwall to comment? It’s a fair question.
I have been listening to, and learning from, local farmers, vets, and scientists for several years now in the Cornwall TB Eradication Group, trying to avoid unconstructive arguments and find common ground. This is my interpretation of the implications of the latest consultation. Any errors or misrepresentations are unintentional. The more I learn the more I see what a wicked problem bovine TB is. It also becomes ever clear to me that further polarisation of opinion is unlikely to help.
One aspect of the consultation that I hope most people will support is the government’s commitment to developing a cattle vaccine for TB. On the surface this seems a no-brainer, but there are several hurdles that need to be overcome and there is no guarantee of success. Still, field trials will start this year, so a deployable cattle vaccine is a step closer, which must be a good thing.
The consultation also seeks views on changes to cattle TB testing regimes. One proposal is to extend post-movement testing to parts of the ‘Edge area’ (A north-south line of central England counties dividing the High Risk Area (HRA) to the west and the Low Risk Area (LRA) to the east). Under the plans, cattle moved from higher risk areas of Britain into those parts of the Edge area where cattle are only tested annually, will need a post-movement TB test. This will have cost implications for farmers but should help to reduce new TB outbreaks caused by cattle movements. This seems like a sensible step, so hopefully will be supported.