Monday, October 28, 2019

New vaccination scheme masquerading as 'animal health programme'

Janusz Wojciechowski is to be the European new Agriculture Minister
So we need to start writing to him to explain where we're at in Ireland and what we really need European funding for.

We really need a system change.

There has been a 10 million euro allocation for a new vaccination scheme is allocated under ‘animal health’ but is only in reality a European grant to pharmaceutical companies  - The 20 euro per vaccinated calf will only be recoverable after payment. It is to the ‘discretion’ of the pharmaceutical producer no doubt how much they will charge and the scheme will  not cover all the costs and will definitely not be charged at any lower than the max €20 euro they’ll know is available.

It is thought that the vaccine will not need to be administered by a vet, another huge expense to farmers, but the farmers themselves will be able to inject their herds. But they could easily change their minds on that.

A vaccination will only cover one or two strains and will not reduce risk of contracting pneumonia. The more obvious reason why dairy calves suffer so regularly from pneumonia is that they are separated from their mothers before receiving the cholostrum needed to develop their own immune systems. It would be much better to change the system to stop them being taken from their mothers at birth. The next place of risk is the overcrowding in cold barns with countless other vulnerable, if not ill already, calves. Export for veal should be stopped as both the travel and then isolated, unnatural keep of calves increases the risk of pneumonia.

As a farmer, I disagree that vaccination improves the health of calves. I also question why we would go to the manufacturers of anti-biotics to ask them for a preventative measure against pneumonia. They are corporate entities benefiting their share holders from the sale of endless rounds of antibiotics when pneumonia takes hold and now they are being promised 10 million to provide a vaccination against that same income stream. As calves are only kept for a matter of months, we can be sure that the long term effects of animal vaccinations living on in trace elements in the meat for human consumption are never known. 

We should be pushing for a system change where organic standards of care are offered, a better price given for high welfare traceability and practices that eliminate the need for veterinary and chemical support are funded. 

In the same edition, I see that Kepak are going to be penalizing farmers for animals that come in at weights outside their randomly-decided remit. Surely, this should not be allowed when all the meat plants have such high incident rates of  non compliance, price-setting and weighing machines at factories that are operating well outside the tolerance level of inaccuracy. How can the meat plants be allowed to decide how few animals they will accept at one time from a farmer and then be allowed to penalize them for going out side the finishing weight that they want to receive them at. I noticed that there will be a new weighing scheme for dairy calf to beef weighing. I suggest that farmers could put that 10 euro per head  for each 1-2 year old calf weighed on their farms to better use. Will we be allowed to weigh them ourselves and who will those weights be submitted to and why?

Everything in animal agriculture, at the moment, from care, to finance, to good practice, to cost, to quality of life, to welfare, to licenses, to cut backs, environmental measures etc is the responsibility of the farmers and meanwhile the meat bosses share the table at the Bord Bia awards, make deals for thousands of tonnes of beef abroad and command profits of over a billion annually  and the European Union is clearly being wined and dined by the agri chemical and pharmaceutical industries and organizing that all schemes and grants directly and only benefit them. 

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