'Political' RSPCA will lose funding streams
I was highly delighted to read about the leaked internal memo which warned the RSPCA might not be around much longer, unless it stopped trying to act like a political organisation.
Because I feel exactly the same way and I know hundreds of farmers do so as well. The RSPCA has been in the past a valuable tool in the fight against animal cruelty. It has rooted out the rogues and downright criminals in the livestock sector who have been guilty of mistreating or ill-treating animals and has seen to it that they are stopped, brought to justice, and barred from being livestock keepers.
If that is what it takes to remove those who are giving farming a bad name, then so be it. I shall go along with it.
What I will not go along with is the over-zealous attitude of the inspectors who turn up in RSPCA uniform at Junction 24 apparently with the sole intent of making life as difficult as possible for the farmers trading there. And what I believe is monstrous is the RSPCA lining itself up with the ragtag mob who are opposing the badger cull.
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I can see what's going on, of course. It's trying to win itself a whole new raft of friends and tap into some new income streams. But to seek to halt an operation – however imperfect it may be – whose sole purpose is to end the suffering of cows and badgers alike runs diametrically counter to the RSPCA's aims and objectives.
By taking this stance it is merely guaranteeing that more badgers will go on dying painfully and slowly from the symptoms of TB. How does that stack up with the RSPCA's role? I can tell RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant that it's not only farmers who are getting rather tired of his using the RSPCA as a springboard for his own (and so far frustrated) political ambitions. So are its traditional non-farming supporters, the people who have hitherto been happy to open their wallets to support its work.
Not any more, I have to warn him. They do not want to see their money squandered on expensive prosecutions or the promotion of campaigns such as that against the badger cull. All charities are feeling the squeeze as the hard times continue to weigh heavily on people and make them think very carefully about how they spend their money.
Ask anyone who works for a charity and they will tell you that nowadays it's only the middle-aged and the elderly who readily give while members of the younger generation are far more reluctant to part with their small change. Grant would do well to consider whether he can really afford to go on alienating his traditional supporters.
Derek Mead is an entrepreneur dairy farmer from Weston-super-Mare