To be fair to the farm organisations, and the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) in particular, they have pushed hard to get individual farmers to respond to the DAERA public consultation on a bovine TB eradication strategy for NI, which closes at 5pm tomorrow (Friday).
A lot of farmers probably intend leaving it to the last minute.
But there is also a significant concern that many think there is no point in responding at all.
That apathy is understandable given that we have been going around in circles on this issue for a generation or more. However, apathy will ensure nothing changes.
But if you simply can’t be bothered, or think because you pay up a UFU membership every year it is for the staff at headquarters to sort, then you really need to think again.
In the consultation there are two key issues – a proposed badger cull, and cuts to the value of reactor animals.
While we all know there are no magic bullets to bovine TB, the successive failure of politicians and DAERA to tackle the reservoir of TB in wildlife is an immense failure in leadership.
However, in Minister Poots and current senior DAERA staff there is, at last, a willingness to take action.
But the reality is that the minister is very unlikely to be in the post after the Stormont election next May. Instead, it will be his successor taking over, potentially at the same time as a cull is about to start.
They could have very different views, and a poor response to the consultation from farmers will make a decision to backtrack all the easier.
If you don’t take 15 minutes to make your view known, you are in no position to complain about future TB controls.
The UFU set out its view in an article published on 31 August 2021 (go to the news section of the UFU website).
From this article, you can access the online response form, which can also be found at www.consultations.nidirect.gov.uk/.