email received November 18 2004
Dear Mary,"V" tag worries are reviving ancient arguments against vaccination. (See front page item November 17 2004)
This argument was most succintly expressed last Thursday by the representative of the Livestock Auctioneers Association, as a presentation of fact.Once an animal, tagged for life, is on the market with a no-export restriction, it will have a lower value than a free passport beast - hence 2-tier market with the danger that someone may shout -'well, if this isn't good enough for the Continentals, why is it good enough for us' ...cue red-top outrage ... 'Ministers in contaminated beef crisis' headlines (familiar?), a few more papers sold, collapse of home market.
The fact that the prohibition on moving the animals is an animal health risk reduction measure with no implications for human health is likely to be overlooked.The red-top sales drive, is open to political exploitation ('questions in the House about this very serious matter', etc), AND, perhaps most especially, will be driven by rogues in the meat trade for price advantage. We are talking about people running "legitimate businesses" who will not care what the cost to animals, farmers or the taxpayer if they can clear a few million in the process.Several people have expressed to me that this will be the bottom line - unscrupulous business practice.This is what DEFRA need to get their heads around if they want a vaccination policy to work - prearranged levels of compensation for loss of value on vaccinated, then marketed, animals. Then prearranged agreements - tied in via subsidies, planning terms or similar horse trading - to stick to the national, not company interest, with swingeing "put them out of business" penalties for infractions.The problem would be -'how do you trace whoever started a rumour' ? A D Notice prohibiting Press coverage? No, probably best not. We seem to be stuck.Ideas welcome. We need to have this debate and to find answers asap .