30-day pre-movement TB test imminent for some farms

The TB Stakeholder forum has issued a report that includes a recommendation to “tighten controls and increase obligations on farms that are not currently restricted with TB but have had difficulties on their farms previously with the disease”.

The forum is proposing that these farms implement a TB risk management plan in consultation with their vet, which will be at an additional cost to the farmer.

This is according to the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) animal health chairman, Pat Farrell, who has said the TB Forum has “failed to deliver on the key objective of addressing stakeholder issues”.

These farms will also be compelled to carry out a 30-day pre-movement test on all animals offered for sale other than slaughter, significantly diminishing the viability of market access for these herds.

It is estimated by the Department of Agriculture that up to 500 herds will be immediately impacted by this measure.

“Current restricted herds will be added to the protocol as they become derestricted and are categorised as chronic herds, effectively extending the impact of the controls on those farms.”

Farrell said the Department of Agriculture proposal “undermines the long-established agreement with Government in relation to liability to pay for tests”.

He said farmers are only liable to pay for one TB test a year and at no shorter interval than 10 months with all additional testing required in the TB programme paid for by the Department of Agriculture.

Under this proposal the Department of Agriculture will only pay for one pre-movement test per quarter exposing farmers to very costly pre-movement testing costs if they need to sell animals at different intervals.

Pat Farrell said: “IFA have outrightly rejected this proposal, and the minister must honour the existing agreement in relation to payment for tests.”

Costs rising

It has been outlined that farmer costs in the TB eradication programme have risen by 15% since 2012, while the costs of other contributors have reduced.

Established by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, the forum was described by Farrell as “a vehicle for the Department of Agriculture to impose their views, while continuing to ignore the voice of farmers, who are the single largest contributor to TB eradication”.

Farrell explained:
  • Direct farmer contributions increased by €4.513 million from €30.641 million to €35.154 million;
  • Department of Agriculture contributions reduced by €289,000 from €45.825 million to €45.536 million;
  • EU co-financing reduced by €1.337 million from €11.085 million to €9.748 million.

“The funding shift between 2012 and 2018 represents an increase of 15% for farmers, a reduction of 1% for the national exchequer and a reduction of 12% by the EU.”

Pat Farrell said one of the recommendations contained in the report to the minister tightens controls and increases obligations on farms that are not currently restricted with TB but have had difficulties on their farms previously with the disease.

He said: “These farms have only recently been derestricted and are attempting to return to normal farming practices having endured the enormous burden of restrictions and animal losses.”