Because badgers are better...
Badgers are accused of reducing the profits obtainable by cattle farming. Intensively reared cattle, living in unnaturally close quarters are prone to infection. Rather than farming less intensively, the National Farmers Union and the government want to tackle the disease by destroying the living vectors as if these wild creatures have no value apart from their roles as carriers of disease. An alternative strategy to attacking badgers would be to ease off intensive cattle farming which has a huge climate impact, pollutes water and land and leads to systemic suffering in herds pressured into over-production of milk. A shift in diet is long overdue anyway. We can well do without the surplus of milk that EU-subsidised cattle produce. The marketing that we should all drink milk every day is increasingly dated. The evidence is out - what cows produce for their calves is not appropriate for humans to ingest regularly. The surging health problem in the UK is obesity not calcium deficiency. Thinning out the population of cattle farmers doesn't have to be bad for the economy. There are many better ways that cattle farmers can earn a good, honest living, especially if EU subsidies are shifted away from incentivising production towards more complex, ecologically and socially positive outcomes. [caption id="attachment_5076" align="aligncenter" width="520"] Sutton Community Farm[/caption]
Land can be gradually shifted towards more diverse functions including energy generation, conservation and recreation as well as producing a broader range of healthier food. More skilful, labour-intensive, agriculture which incorporates composting, the reintroduction of rare breeds and heritage species can be an opportunities for farms to reach out again to their communities and offer new jobs and education. Sutton Community Farm and River Cottage are two successful examples of this approach.
Also, why not broaden our diet and farming with other species like deer and rabbit that are healthier to eat, easier on the land and can be incorporated within a rich and diverse mosaic of ecological productivity?
If humans always prioritise the economy over the natural world then prospects of living a good life diminish as the ecological systems that support us break down. Where do we draw a protective line around what remains of nature? England has already dramatically transformed its terrestrial ecology. The land was once completely forested and in amongst those trees roamed wolves, bears, wild boar, otters, beavers and other fascinating and unusual beasts. Above the canopy soared eagles and osprey. Today, 99% of this forest and most of these creatures have gone. The land is impoverished and without the dense fecundity of surface vegetation the soil is gradually washed out to sea. This doesn't just harm our ability to grow food and harvest resources, it exposes our souls to the barren abyss of space that life keeps at bay. Badgers are the UK's largest, extant wild carnivore. If we choose to see them simply as a barrier to the economic contributions of intensively farming cattle we are missing the main point, and anyway, economics isn't that interesting. Economic development has already gone too far. Our project now is to protect what is left of wild flora and fauna and this requires us to be proactive and rehabilitate the land: plant trees, dig ponds and reintroduce species that have gone. Having the humility to see that we are not the superior overlords of this planet but in fact just a small part of something massively more complex then we currently understand isn't a step down because we are integral to the biosphere. The sense of being a small part of something bigger than ourselves is at the core of a sense of belonging and also spirituality. Having love and compassion for other creatures, the ecosystem we are within and in totality our living planet, Gaia, is an opportunity for deeply-satisfying psychological, emotional and spiritual growth. Letting other carnivores roam the land with us can be a source of pride.