Changes have been announced under new EU TB regulations “which will better enable farmers with restricted herds to move cattle in and restock during a breakdown”.

Announced by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue today (Friday, July 30), farmers experiencing a TB breakdown will be able to avail of this “beneficial change” from this Monday (August 2).

This is the result of new provisions under the EU Animal Health Law, which removed the previous requirement for a TB-restricted herd to have completed one clear herd TB test before cattle could be moved into it.

That provision had caused considerable difficulties in relation to farm management and business continuity during TB restrictions, particularly for farmers whose enterprise involved purchasing store cattle, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

Under the new rules, where a farmer draws up a risk mitigation plan for the restricted herd, which is approved by the Regional Veterinary Office (RVO), farmers can be given permission to introduce stock.

The plan should be practical, pragmatic, and will help the farmer to reduce the risk of a recurring or prolonged TB breakdown in the herd, DAFM says.

Once the plan is approved and in place, cattle may be moved under permit into the restricted herd.

This change has been discussed at three meetings of the TB Forum Implementation Working Group, following which a procedure informed by stakeholder feedback has been developed to enable farmers to take advantage of this new flexibility, it was added.

This change will also benefit those farmers with non-restricted herds hoping to sell their stock on to a purchaser whose herd becomes TB-restricted.

Commenting, Minister McConalogue said:

“While a TB breakdown can cause immense stress for farmers and farm families, this new change will make it simpler for the business of farming to continue for restricted herds, while at the same time mitigating the risk of a prolonged or recurring breakdown.

“This positive development, along with the success of the new policy on cattle which test inconclusive, again highlights the constructive role of the TB Forum and its Implementation working group, whose commitment and dedication is making a real difference in tackling bovine TB and protecting farmers and their cattle from the threat of a TB breakdown,” the minister added.

Farmers seeking to take advantage of this new policy are advised to contact their RVO, DAFM concludes.