AS a farmer, why would you bother reading this? How could the views of a rock star on bovine TB be worth squat?
Especially one who has been widely accused of caring more about the welfare of wild animals than that of farmers?
It is no secret about seven years ago I came into the beleaguered world of dairy farming intent on saving the lives of British badgers.
Along with Save-Me chief executive Anne Brummer, I pitched in and, after spending much time with farmers, vets, scientists and as animal rights campaigners, we quickly realised campaigning, petitioning, and shouting abuse would not help anyone.
The first time I walked a grazing field with dairy farmer Jan Rowe in front of TV cameras, I vowed I would make every effort to help find the truth about bovine TB and find a proper solution to this tragic farming problem in a way which is acceptable to all parties.
So our mission has been to save not only the badgers, but also the cows and farmers too.
Seven years later, thousands of badgers have been killed, along with any infected animals identified with the TB skin test in a cattle regime of test and removal.
It is increasingly apparent to all but the last die-hards that Britain, using these methods, is failing in the battle against bTB.
Farmers feel powerless to deal with this disease, being compelled to follow a policy which they know is inadequate to even control its spread, let alone eradicate it by the target date of 2038.
A recent paper (Brunton et al, 2017) confirmed after the first two years of this badger cull, it was not possible to confirm any overall improvement in the prevalence of TB in cattle when farms in and around the cull zones were included in the count.
This was predicted by the conclusions of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial report which, after 10 years and 11 thousand badgers were killed, concluded ‘culling badgers can make no meaningful contribution to the control of bovine TB in cattle’.
But the powers that be cherry picked bits of information out of context and thought they knew better.
So badger killing, along with a notoriously inaccurate skin test in cattle, became the principal ‘tool’ deployed in the fight against bovine TB.
Is anyone really surprised it is not working?
"Save-Me felt it was time for a radical review of how the UK is tackling this disease, wherein all the interested parties could come together without prejudice and plan a practical, effective and popular way to control TB in cattle and badgers.
Our recent seminar in December demonstrated the co-operation which is possible between what has been perceived as groups with opposing views.
An immediate result of the conference was the beginning of a consensus, and the novel scenario of animal campaigners and scientists cooperating with farmers and vets in new approaches.
The fact culling badgers has not solved the problem indicates other solutions must be found.