The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is being called on to allow farmers to voluntarily remove inconclusives with compensation.

On Wednesday of last week (April 7) the department announced a “new approach” on inconclusive animals, in line with the TB Eradication Strategy.

Now, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has said that “a critical component” is missing from that approach.

Lorcan McCabe, the ICMSA deputy president, has called for the department to give farmers the option to remove an inconclusive animal on a voluntary basis when identified and to be compensated under live market valuation.

“The system proposed by the department is going to involve additional…time and costs for both the department and the farmers,” McCabe highlighted.

“That’s why [we are] calling for an additional option whereby a farmer can remove an inconclusive TB animal straight away from their herd with market compensation if that’s what they choose,” he added.

McCabe argued: “If we are serious about reducing the levels of TB and in a context where the department have identified inconclusives as a potential source, then ICMSA is firmly of the view that resources need to be allocated to the process upfront.

“Providing a voluntary option of removing inconclusives would be a step in the right direction.”

The ICMSA deputy president said farmers should be incentivised to remove inconclusives early.

“The process of retesting inconclusive animals every six months and the cost and labour involved in such a process would easily exceed the costs…of voluntary removal of inconclusive animals when identified,” he noted.

McCabe concluded: “The inconclusive policy as currently structured will involve extra time and cost that could be better devoted to other issues.”

The ICMSA has said it will repeat its call for a voluntary inconclusive removal policy at the next meeting of the TB Stakeholder Forum.