Grant Thornton to undertake review of TB compensation

Independent consultants will undertake a review of on-farm market valuation (OFMV), which determines the compensation paid for cattle lost to TB.

According to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), professional services firm Grant Thornton will conduct the review.

Hugh Farrell, the ICSA’s animal health and welfare chairperson, said: “It has been confirmed to ICSA that Grant Thornton will conduct this much-needed review of how TB reactor cattle are valued, and compensation levels are set.

The whole area of OFMV was much contested at the TB 2030 Forum.

“We know that the Department of Agriculture believes that the system is fair and that compensation levels are in fact set too high,” Farrell commented.

“Farmers have always paid, and continue to pay, more than their fair share when it comes to the TB Eradication Programme, and far from being overcompensated, they are short changed when it comes to TB compensation.

“In 2018, the contribution made by farmers to the TB Eradication Programme was €35.2 million. This comprises an estimated €28 million in TB testing paid directly to private veterinary practitioners, and €7 million in disease levies,” the ICSA animal health and welfare chairperson added.

In addition to their €35 million financial contribution, farmers also contribute a massive amount in terms of unpaid labour. ICSA has assessed the labour costs for farmers incurred in testing cattle to be in the order of €12.5 million.

“If account is taken of book work and other TB-associated tasks the figure is even higher, making their real economic contribution closer to €50 million annually,” Farrell claimed.

He added: “Meanwhile, the total for OFMV and other supports, such as the Hardship Grant and income supplement amounts, to just €18 million.”

Among the issues that will be tackled by the review is whether the weekly Summary of Market Prices (SMP) is an accurate reflection of the market; and whether independent valuers can provide prices for reactor animals in line with market values without “undue interference”.