Coveney’s Johne’s control plan praised

Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) Animal Health and Welfare Chair Jonathan Moore has praised Simon Coveney’s Johne’s control programme as “forward thinking”.

The Department of Agriculture will financially support the start of a pilot voluntary Johne’s control programme that was announced at the Animal Health Ireland (AHI) in Cork last week. Moore and UFU Animal Health Policy Officer Caroline Buick were in attendance.

“Tackling production diseases is in the interest of both industry and the government. For farmers, having a handle on these diseases will not only make farms more efficient, but should also help to boost farm profitability,” noted Moore.

“These diseases are a drain on the system as well and can have an impact on trade and export markets, which is why government and industry need to work together to address them. This is particularly important here in Northern Ireland given that both the Republic of Ireland and Scotland are already quite far down the line in some of their disease eradication schemes.

“Good work is already under way here though with the creation of Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland, which is a joint initiative between industry and government. Currently a BVD Eradication Scheme in Northern Ireland is being progressed and already a significant number of Persistently Infected calves (PI animals) have been identified. At the conference I was encouraged by reports from Switzerland where a calf-tag tissue-testing programme, similar to the one being rolled out in Northern Ireland, has been implemented. Switzerland is heading rapidly towards BVD-free status, and is currently at the surveillance stage of their eradication scheme. It is hoped that a similar compulsory programme will be introduced in Northern Ireland and that we can replicate the progress made by Switzerland in tackling BVD.

“Similar to ROI, Johnne’s is firmly on the agenda here in Northern Ireland. It is good news for the South that Irish Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has shown his commitment to helping to eradicate Johnne’s by providing funding for a pilot control project. I hope that our own Agriculture Minister will take notice of Mr Coveney’s forward-thinking and consider making a similar commitment to tackling the Johnne’s disease here at home.”