One farmer said he believed the pilot badger cull, started two years ago, had played a big part in his 1,700-strong herd testing negative for bTB for the first time in 11 years. “We thought there was no chance we’d ever go TB-free,” he told the Farmers Weekly.
A study of veterinary practices, led by Gloucestershire vet Roger Blowey, has suggested a fivefold decrease in the number of TB reactors in the cull zone since early 2013.
The Conservative party has said it will roll out badger culling to more areas in an attempt to eradicate bovine tuberculosis within 25 years. Liz Truss, the DEFRA secretary told reporters at the NFU annual conference last week, that the approach that had been successful in other countries, including New Zealand, Australia and Ireland was shown to be the way forward.
Culling is part of a comprehensive strategy which also includes cattle controls and vaccination in some areas.
The Labour Party has pledged to abandon badger culling. They argue that the scheme is based on unsound science and would make ‘no meaningful contribution’. Surely the evidence in Gloucestershire and Somerset should be taken into consideration before abandoning a system which seems to be helping to eradicate this major problem.
The farming press report the outcome of a court case regarding sheep which were attacked horrifically by dogs in West Lothian last year. The sheep farmer following the incident was £20,000 out of pocket as 100 ewes and lambs were either killed outright, fatally wounded or severely injured. The dog owner despite pleading guilty was fined just £400, and no compensation was awarded to the farmer.
Many ewes and many lambs were mauled to death, and others left bleeding from wounds. The farmer was left with huge financial losses due to continued vet bills for dressing wounds and antibiotics, loss of breeding stock and the sale of lambs.
The legal system surely should be reviewed. In such cases it is not right that farmers must pursue compensation through costly and time consuming civil claims.
There is concern that women of child baring age, and now even some men could be squeezed out of the jobs market. New legislation coming into effect on 5th April allows mothers, and now fathers up to 50 weeks leave.
Jo Swinton the Employment Relations Minister has said that ‘shared parental leave will kickstart a change where fathers feel empowered to take time off to look after kids and not feel constrained by outdated stereotypes.’
Hardly surprisingly many businesses, particularly small ones, have been slow to prepare for this change and left themselves exposed to claims for discrimination.
At a time when the economy, although improving, is still precarious, it seems odd that ministers consider putting even more pressure upon employers, businesses and a section of the population seeking employment.
Time and again we hear stories of women taking paid maternity leave during which a replacement must be found. The woman then returns to the job, which must be kept open for her, for a few weeks or months and then leaves to either to be a full time mum or for further maternity leave.
If businesses now have to consider paternity leave as well, I can understand why there is consternation in some quarters.
It is being noted that the result of women wishing to enter the jobs market on a level playing field with their male colleagues, and have a family, is in some cases proving expensive and causing problems. It seems that some women wish to have a well paid, highly trained job such as within the medical profession, the city and politics, amongst other professions. But they also want time out to raise a family and then return to the job at the same level they left. Often on a part time basis and with additional privileges not available to unmarried or childless women, and male counterparts.
It was highlighted last week that due to the huge increase in women doctors, both in hospitals and GP practises, the system is breaking down in some parts of the country because women with families expect to work part time, and at hours to suit family life. The burden is now falling upon women without family commitments and male doctors.
It has also been suggested that Parliament has been transformed, not necessarily for the better, due to the demands of women MPs. In particular those who wish the parliamentary day to fit around school runs, beast-feeding, bedtime stories and family occasions.
In the past many MPs also had ‘proper jobs’, which they managed alongside parliamentary duties. Much of the business of the both chambers took place in the evening and debates often continued late into the night.
The country was despite this or perhaps because of it, effectively and efficiently run and MPs were respected and admired. The men and women who chose to enter Parliament were fully aware of the commitment and were prepared to forego other considerations for the privilege of representing their constituents. The parliamentary system today, which has been largely driven by a new breed of women entering parliament over perhaps the past thirty years, has I would suggest, not made it a better place.