Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On killing badgers and boycotting milk suppliers

Click here for the Stop the Cull campaign
The badger cull has begun. I've emailed Dairy Crest, who deliver my milk, to tell them I'm closing my account, and why. I got this reply from Colin Walters, Dairy Crest's Consumer Care Advisor:
Dear Margaret

Many thanks for getting in touch and sharing your concerns regarding the issue of Bovine TB. We appreciate this is an extremely difficult issue, involving animal welfare issues on both sides of the debate and I wanted to give you some background information which I hope you will find useful.

Bovine TB is one of the most serious problems facing the dairy sector, having a negative impact on the health and welfare of both wild and farm animals, and it is important that we work towards its eradication.

Bovine TB has inflicted severe damage on the financial and emotional well being of many British dairy farmers and it is on the rise, with 38, 000 cattle compulsorily slaughtered as reactors or direct contacts in 2012, a 10 per cent increase compared to 2011. This has already cost UK farmers £90 million and it is estimated that it will cost taxpayers £1 billion over the next ten years if we do not take action.

The Government has been through due process, including a judicial review, and has concluded to go ahead with a limited cull. As the UK’s leading dairy company, processing around 15 per cent of British milk production, Dairy Crest may well source milk from farms in the pilot area for the trial. However, we want to help our farmers to ensure the long-term sustainability of a British dairy industry and to do this we need to tackle bTB head on. We therefore support the science-based controlled approach proposed by the Government. It is up to each individual farmer if they participate but we are committed to supporting all of our farmers through this challenging time.

Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Kind Regards, etc.
I've replied:
Thank you for your speedy reply. I've heard all the arguments in favour of a cull (I wrote to your CEO last year), and I sympathise with the dairy farmers, but I have very strong reservations about how "humane" the cull will be and I'm unconvinced that it will benefit the dairy industry in the long term. I find the arguments in favour of a cull less convincing than those presented by Team Badger. Lord Krebs has said, “The scientific case is as clear as it can be: this cull is not the answer to TB in cattle. I have not found any scientists who are experts in population biology or the distribution of infectious disease in wildlife who think that culling is a good idea. People seem to have cherry-picked certain results to try and get the argument they want.”

I'm regretfully cancelling my doorstep deliveries from Milk and More unless and until the cull is cancelled, or until Dairy Crest changes its support for a badger cull.
Incidentally, I signed my initial email with my full name, and regard it as over-familiar to be addressed by my forename.

It won't be easy, doing without doorstep deliveries, as I don't drive and the village stores only sell milk from the same supplier. The nearest source of locally-produced milk is 4 miles away. I'm going to have to make some room in the freezer.

I wonder if Chris Packham's TV series on burrowers might help raise support for the anti-cull campaign? It hasn't been mentioned in the programmes, but the timing must have helped.

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