Farmers angry at plans to extend BVD testing scheme to 2020

Farmers are angry and are beginning to lose patience with the BVD testing , IFA Animal Health Project Team Chairman, Bert Stewart has said.

Stewart told Agriland that farmers were disappointed at the BVD Technical Working Group’s recommendation to continue tag testing for BVD until 2020.

The Monaghan-based dairy farmer said farmers need to know where the scheme is going, as it is costing them in the region of €9m on an annual basis.

“Farmers signed up for a three-year scheme, and some farmers, who opted into the voluntary phase of the scheme, are in their fourth year of testing.

“Extending the scheme out until 2020 is not what farmers had originally signed up for,” he said.

But, with a recommendation to extend the scheme up until 2020, he said the Department of Agriculture needs to step in and supplement the cost of BVD-testing tags to farmers.

“The Department must put in funding, they have been dragging their feet and have been slow to restrict herds which hold onto Persistently Infected (PI) calves and have been slow to notify the neighbours of these herds and vets.”

Furthermore, he said the delay in compensation payments to farmers for PI calves was unacceptable, with many farmers being forced to wait until October for payments, which were supposed to be paid in May.

Has the BVD testing scheme been effective?

Since the introduction of BVD-tag testing, Stewart said that scheme has cost almost €45m, but despite the cost, it has had a positive impact on the number of BVD-positive herds in the country.

Back in 2013, he said, there were approximately 9,500 positive herds – this dropped to 4,500 in 2015.

“There has been good progress made, but farmers are losing patience with the scheme,” he said.

Between 2013 and 2015, Stewart said that only 20 PI calves had been retained within the 120,000 herds tested.

“IFA has made its position known that it must be made compulsory to remove positive animals from herds,” he said.