Department to provide farmers with ‘simplified’ TB risk reports

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said it will be providing personalised herd test history statements and reports to cattle farmers in the coming days, to “help them to reduce the risk of bovine TB in their herds”.

According to the department, the ‘Bovine TB Forum Interim Report’ identified the need to “provide more effective information to farmers”.

‘More user-friendly, detailed and practical’

The department added that the interim report also identified a need for the “development of herd risk categories that are simple, clear, and convey sufficient information to enable farmers to make the decisions appropriate to their situation”.

The department said it has developed individualised reports that provide a “simplified” TB herd risk category for farmers, with herd-specific advice on how to reduce risk of TB.

Farmers are already provided with information in relation to their TB risk, but this new report presents this in a “more user-friendly, detailed and practical form”.

Further actions taken to reduce risk of bTB

In addition to developing the TB Herd History Risk Statement, the department said it has advanced a number of other recommendations:
  • Commissioning an independent review into the On Farm Market Valuation Scheme to ensure farmers are receiving accurate market values for reactor animals;
  • Commissioning an independent cost benefit analysis of the TB Programme to inform the development of a sustainable funding model for the programme into the future;
  • Continuing to fund independent scientific research into inter-species transmission of the disease, including the factors influencing local spread;
  • Engaging with the Economic and Social Research Institute to undertake research;
  • Rolling out a number of High Impact TB (HIT) plans in TB problem areas, including counties Monaghan, Cavan and Clare.

The department outlined the “concerning increase” in the disease since 2016. This has continued in 2020 with further increases in herd incidence and reactor numbers observed.

According to the department, herd incidence (on a 12-month rolling basis) has breached 4% for the first time since 2012 and reactor numbers have exceeded 20,000 – the highest number since 2009.  These trends highlight the “need for urgent action to manage the risk more effectively”.

Furthermore, as part of its ongoing actions, the department said it has sanctioned an additional 16 posts across policy, operations, wildlife and the laboratory services, at an estimated additional annual cost of €1 million per annum.