Extension of Covid-19 TB procedures ‘sensible and balanced’ – ICMSA

The decision by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to extend the TB testing procedures put in place due to Covid-19 has been welcomed by farm organisations.

Lorcan McCabe, the deputy president of the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), said that the extension “was a welcome recognition that the amended procedures worked well and provided the degree of flexibility and safety circumstances required”.

He said it would give “breathing space” to farmers who may be impacted by Covid-19, such as those who are isolating at the time of a herd test.

McCabe also welcomed the option of not testing calves under 120 days, saying it takes a “level of worry” from farmers.

Under the extended protocols, calves aged 42 to 120 days can move to other herds once the herd of origin is not restricted.

“This extension will be a relief to those dairy farmers who sell calves in spring and will give them leeway at a very difficult time. It’s worth noting that if those calves are not tested in the current test, they will need to be tested to move to other herds once these protocols lapse after April 1,” the ICMSA deputy president pointed out.

These are challenging times for all involved and we must all work together to ensure the safety of our farmers, vets and department officials, so it is important to make sure that all health guidelines are followed during testing on farms as set out by the HSE [Health Service Executive].

“We must also remember that bovine TB rates are rising again and the testing of animals must continue to ensure that outbreaks are not made any worse due to delays in testing,” McCabe highlighted.

He argued that the extension “struck a balance” between protecting farmers, their families and wider community.