‘Factories will benefit once again’ from government TB decisions – Healy-Rae

Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae has said that “factories will benefit once again” as he outlined his “worries” over the controversial TB Herd History Risk Statements and Reports.

Deputy Healy-Rae says that what the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is doing is “just wrong like”.

He said he is particularly concerned that herd history risks will be displayed on mart boards, although the department has confirmed that herd history risks will not compulsorily be displayed.

“No farmer should have buyers driven away just because they had cattle locked up many years ago,” deputy Healy-Rae said.

“It’s completely wrong. The result will be that farmers will be left with no choice but to sell the animals to the factory for whatever it will give them and the factories will be the ones benefitting once again.

“That’s going to hurt small farmers again in a big way – having suffered already, they’ll suffer again.”

‘Minister is wrong on TB letters’

Yesterday, AgriLand reported that the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) has said that it is “disappointed” by the minister’s initial response to the TB risk letters.

Hugh Farrell, the association’s animal health and welfare chairperson, argued: “The minister is wrong in his description of these letters as ‘user-friendly, detailed and practical’, when the reality is they will do more harm than good.”

Farrell also reiterated calls for the TB Forum to be reconvened to address the issue.

No programme should be about unnecessarily punishing farmers trying to make a living, which is what is happening as a result of these letters. The department has lost the trust of farmers and their representatives over this issue.

Farrell also criticised recent comments from one University College Dublin (UCD) professor who allegedly said: “We cannot guarantee, when a herd tests negative, that the herd is in fact free.”

Farrell argued that this “calls into question the entire efficacy of the TB testing regime”.

“If we can’t guarantee that a negative test result means negative for TB, then conversely how can we be certain that a positive test is actually positive.”