Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Government Department complicit in overpaying farmers for bTB compensation.

Compensation paid to Farmers from bovine Tuberculosis infected cattle appears to have been overestimated, resulting in tax payers forking out up to £50 million too much every year in overpayments.

Furthermore, the Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) told me that it is “continuingly trying to instigate a cull of badgers to  reduce the financial and emotional cost to farmers”. However, their own 2008 report shows the majority of financial loses that farmers encounter are nothing to do with bTB.

The full DEFRA report on British cattle for 2008 showed that bTB was responsible for just 10% of premature deaths of cattle over 2 years of age.  

The other 90% were mainly the results of modern farming practices, which increased the rates of cows’ lameness, infertility and mastitis.

Lameness in cattle is mainly due to them not being cared for properly.
In Holland, farmers are fined for having lame cattle, which ensures that they  regularly have their hooves maintained – just like horses have to in the UK.

Infertile cows are the result of diseases, poor nutrition, inadequate herd management, hereditary and congenital factors, hormonal disturbances or environmental changes – in short that’s modern farming practices.

Mastitis which affects most cows, is the inflammation of the mammary glands, causing lumps in the milk and reducing yield. This costs an average of £200 per cow every year to treat; hence acute cases are culled – (Yep, you guessed it) as a result of modern farming practices.

 A majority of modern dairy cows only survive for 3 lactations  (5 - 6 years old), compared with 6 - 12 lactations in the 1970's (9 – 15 years old). 
Whilst the average cost of a high yielding three year old cow (Heifer) is £1700, that goes down though to £1100 when they are a year older.

If cattle are around five years old when they are culled they will be worth a small fraction of that figure. 

The £63 million paid to farmers for 39000 bTB infected cattle means that each one was valued at £1615 – an overpayment of at least £21.5 million if each one is four years old on average when culled. 

It could be much more though, as dairy cows are not bred to produce a high beef yeild, so will be worth just a few hundred pounds when they are a spent force and culled.

 DEFRA though have not included the actual ages of the cattle farmers gained compensation for in their report, therefore we could be looking at a monumental overpayment of compensation to farmers from the government – that reeks of complicity.

Below is the transcript of  DEFRA’s reply, after I put forward my argument.

Thank you for your further email following our response of 14 September.
You may be interested to know that since our previous response to you, Defra has launched a public consultation on, ‘Bovine Tuberculosis: The Government’s approach to tackling the disease and consultation on a badger control policy’. The consultation document contains detailed information about bovine TB and the Government’s proposals to tackle the disease, as well as providing answers to frequently asked questions. This consultation will run until 8 December.

To view the consultation document and give your views on this consultation, please see the Defra website at

With regard to the statement in the West Briton that you mentioned in your email, this was not an official Defra statement and we do not know who made it. 
(Slandering the character of people who realise that the badger cull is not going to reduce bTB.)

You suggest in your email that farming practices may be responsible for the transmission of bTB amongst cattle. Good biosecurity and husbandry are indeed essential on every farm, and additionally, cattle controls have an important role to play in tackling bovine TB.
Although there is documented scientific evidence that larger cattle herds are more prone to disease, the relationship between herd size and disease risk is not straight forward. Some large intensive husbandry systems can actually have much higher biosecurity than extensive outdoor systems. Furthermore, it should be noted that cattle can pick up Mycobacterium bovis (the bacterium responsible for TB in cattle and other mammals) infection from badgers on grass, so cattle that spend most of the time outdoors are also at risk.
Updated advice on husbandry best practice has been produced for farmers by the Bovine TB Husbandry Working Group - a partnership of key farming, veterinary and wildlife groups and government. The advice suggests precautionary measures that farmers can take to help reduce the risk of TB transmission between cattle and between cattle and badgers.
The advice is available on the Defra website at:

The aim is to help farmers help themselves implement sensible on-farm measures to both keep their animals healthy, reduce their contact with wildlife (in particular badgers) and take sensible precautions to reduce transmission between cattle.
The TB Eradication Group for England (TBEG), a group with representatives from Defra’s Food and Farming Group, Animal Health, the farming industry and the veterinary profession, flagged up, in their first progress report published in November 2009, the importance of providing enhanced support in the form of professional/sharply focused advice on biosecurity (as well as veterinary and business issues) to TB-affected farm businesses. This recommendation is being implemented under a ‘Farmer Advice Project’, which builds on previous work by the Husbandry Working Group.
However, no single measure will be enough to tackle the disease on its own.  We need to use every tool in the toolbox. Badgers are a significant reservoir for the disease and evidence suggests that without addressing the problem in the badger population, it will not be possible to eradicate TB in cattle. That is why the Government are putting together a balanced package of measures to tackle the disease in both cattle and badgers, on which a decision will be made in early 2011. TB is having a devastating effect on many farm businesses and families, especially in the West and South West of England. Thousands of cattle are slaughtered each year at huge financial and emotional cost to farmers and the situation is getting steadily worse. The number of animals slaughtered each year is unacceptable and more and more farms are affected as the disease spreads across the country. The farming industry, the veterinary profession and Government therefore need to work in partnership if we are to eradicate the disease.
Yours sincerely,

TB Correspondence Team
Defra Customer Contact Unit


  1. My latest research indicates that farmers were paid £2000 for each animal up until 2 years ago so it could be well over 100 million pounds too much paid in compo. This is another reason why they have apparently sent unproductive cows to be killed in place of bTB infected ones, which if true has not exactly helped stem the spread of bTB. Obviously more research is required on this which relies on a government agency and farmers being honest - good luck to anyone who tries to get access to these figures!

    Tony Lewis china wants our milk but wont buy it with the risk of it being contaminated by the government make a gesture to kill a supposed source of the bug as a gesture to the chinese milk buying companies. milk sales to china will be huge but extremely cheap so farmers will be milking their cows a lot more and looking after the cattles' health even less........more cattle will suffer extreme illness problems due to serious over milking and over population etc and who benefits from all this.....the farmers? no, the cattle? no, the badgers? no....all will be fucked harder than ever....
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