The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has called for clarity on how new bovine tuberculosis (TB) measures will be funded.

The ICSA’s animal health chair Hugh Farrell has said that farm organisations are becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of detail being provided by the bovine TB forum and its sub committees. He said:

“The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue must step up to the plate and outline what extra financial contribution he will make to cover the extra rules and restrictions being proposed in relation to bovine TB.”

He said that the ICSA and other representatives will not agree on proposals to introduce pre or post-movement testing requirements until further detail is provided on how these measures will be funded.

“ICSA is clear – the whole regime is built around a deal from many years ago whereby farmers agreed to pay for the annual herd test but not any additional testing,” Farrell explained.

He said that farmers are receiving “totally out of date” supports such as the Income Supplement and Hardship grants, particularly given the current inflationary pressures.

According to Farrell, it is not realistic to introduce further testing requirements without also introducing more supports.

“Extra testing requirements imposes extra costs which farmers cannot carry at the moment,” Farrell stated.

Extra hardships for farmers combined with a lack of money on the government’s side is leaving the finance sub committee of the TB forum “hamstrung” he added.

“This is now a logjam and ICSA is calling on Minister McConalogue to sit down with the farm organisations and put serious proposals forward on how the government will come up with extra funds.

Farrell concluded by stating that the association will not agree to more testing requirements unless the government comes forward with extra supports.

“We are not willing to spend another year being fobbed off with expensive consultant reports designed to cloud over the key issues. It is now time for the minister to sit down and take a realistic approach to resolving this,” he finished.