UK government vets gagged on badger cull

Farmers Guardian is reporting that UK government veterinarians, in the interest of an open and frank discussion, have been told to sit quietly and not express their views on whether badgers should be culled to control bovine TB — unless their opinion agrees with whatever the government decides to do.

In a circular email, seen by Farmers Guardian, the Defra agency has told all its staff that a major announcement from Defra on TB policy, including the decision on badger culling, is expected ‘within the next few weeks’.

The message, sent by Animal Health field services director Andy Foxcroft, says it is ‘essential that all members of Animal Health are seen to support Government policy’ whatever decision is made, stating, “I appreciate that this maybe challenging, given the strong views some of our customers groups hold about the issues. However, I know that you will appreciate that it is critical. Therefore, all Animal Health staff who come into contact with customers, either by telephone or in person, will be expected to not express any disagreement with the Defra position on TB strategy at any stage."

A former state vet, who  asked to remain anonymous, said old colleagues were ‘surprised’ by the email that smacked of ‘paranoia.’

An Animal Health spokeswoman said the agency had "taken the opportunity to remind our staff of the need to support" Defra policy, whatever decision is made in order ‘to ensure there is no confusion."

"Farmers need one clear message on the position on bTB."