Well, I’m not scientist or accountant but the badger cull makes no sense, scientifically or financially. Don’t get me wrong, Bovine TB is yet another battle for farmers and I have sympathy for them, but the Government’s approach is just plain wrong.
Leaving the science to one side (I might come back to that later), the bean counters have surely got their sums wrong. Bovine TB, both the testing and compensation to farmers, costs a great deal each year. According to DEFRA’s own figures, in 2009/10 (this the latest year I came across with a quick Googling) testing and compensation cost a total of £72m – a very significant sum in anyone’s book.
However, the pilot badger cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset cost over £4.5m (this excludes the £2.6m spent on policing). If the cull was widened to cover the rest of the worst affected areas, the cost would surely soon rise to match or pass the current costs of Bovine TB. Furthermore, of that £72m, some £44m is spent on testing, which would clearly continue to be spent even when a cull is underway.
Time for the Government to admit that they have got their sums wrong and give up on this nonsense. Instead, they should be lobbying the EU more strongly on licensing the use of a vaccine for cattle and spending more on developing a test to differentiate between vaccinated and non-vaccinated cattle.
I’m not a scientist, farmer or bean-counter; just a concerned amateur.