Early morning call. (11 am ! ) Does this corner of Smith Square look forbidding ? Or is it all in my mind ? It just happens to be the home of both DEFRA – a Government department – the Department of The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – and the NFU – the National Farmers Union. These two organisations together are responsible for killing of over 20,000 badgers this year, as part of a strategy to eradicate bovine Tuberculosis in cattle – a strategy which now appears to many to be failing. This is where today we are part of a ‘review’ of these strategies in front of Secretary of State Michael Gove. We asked him to convene this meeting and he agreed, and today he’s attending in person – the first Environment Secretary to do this in living memory. Our attitude is not to go in and shout, but to be part of a constructive discussion with views from all sides. Nevertheless we are hopeful that we can change the focus of action towards improving farm practices and away from badger culling.
Wish us luck !
Emerging from our meeting at DEFRA ! Anne Brummer and I sat with a frighteningly top-level group of experts including 10 professors – discussing how government policy on bovine TB can be optimised in the coming years. See my previous post for the background story if you’re interested. Michael Gove listened, took notes, and asked very pertinent questions. He immediately seems to grasp all the isssues. No matter what comes of this, it’s refreshing to have a Secretary of State who actually takes the time to listen to all points of view and make his own decision. This is the man who right now has the future of cows, farmers and badgers in his hands. We felt it was an honest and productive meeting. I’ll tell you more later. As you can see from our expressions here, although this is a tough road, today wasn’t all bad. And we’re grateful that it happened.
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