The decision by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to extend the current arrangements on TB testing has been met with approval by farm organisations.
The department confirmed earlier today (Wednesday, March 3) that the current arrangements – which were put in place due to Covid-19 – will be extended until June 1.
Pat Farrell, the chairperson of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Animal Health Committee, said it was a “good move”.
According to Farrell, the flexibilities on testing dates and the 28-day grace period after a test falls due will “allow farmers plan TB tests without taking unnecessary risks”.
He also suggested that some of the current arrangements should be made permanent.
“Allowing the sale of calves up to 120 days without the need for a TB test on the home market has gone down very well with both sellers and buyers of calves and is an amendment we should seek to include permanently in the TB programme,” the IFA animal health chair argued.
Meanwhile, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) expressed similar sentiment, saying that the department should be commended for taking the decision relatively early, which “avoided uncertainty”.
Lorcan McCabe, the association’s deputy president, said that the extension of the measures “will be a relief to those farmers who have calves to sell and gives valuable leeway at a very difficult time”.
The 28-day testing extension will give breathing space to farmers who may be impacted by Covid or simply isolating around the time of their expected herd test.
“These are still challenging times for all involved and we have to work together to ensure the safety of our farmers, vets and department officials; that obviously means adhering to all relevant HSE guidelines,” the deputy ICMSA president highlighted.
“But the fact is that the incidence of Bovine TB is rising again and we need to ensure that outbreaks are not made any worse due to delays in testing. That’s the balance to be struck: protecting farmers, their families and the wider community while also protecting our herds against TB and not relaxing overall vigilance,” he stressed.
“In fairness we think these Covid regulations strike that balance in a clearly defined way,” he concluded.