The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has said that it will not accept new tuberculosis (TB) testing rules unless the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) fully covers the cost for farmers.
Under new regulations, cattle over 36 months of age that are moving from farm to farm or through a mart must have been TB tested in the last six months; or be tested within 30 days after the movement.
This requirement will come into effect on February 1.
ICSA Animal Health and Welfare Committee chair, Hugh Farrell reiterated that farm organisations have not agreed to the new movement rules for breeding stock in the absence of the department fully covering the cost of additional standalone TB tests
He also clarified that farmers should continue to sell cattle at the mart and that they are entitled to sell whether or not the herd was tested in the past six months.
“In the case of any animal for finishing, such as a cull cow, testing is not compulsory for either seller or buyer. This is because the animal will end up going for slaughter anyway when finished.
“The issue only arises in the case of an animal that is being bought for breeding purposes such as an in-calf cow or a breeding bull.
“In these cases, the seller may choose to test but it is not compulsory. The buyer will have to test those animals,” the ICSA chair said.
Farrell emphasised that most cattle sold through marts will not be impacted by these changes.
“This will not be even an issue for herds selling animals that have had a herd test in the past six months and it will not affect animals sold for finishing nor will it affect younger animals that haven’t calved in its current iteration.
“While ICSA does not want to accept any additional burden on farmers in terms of testing, the reality is that the EU Animal Health Law has tied our hands,” he added.
“After months of talks, the movement testing of cattle has been pushed back to cover only breeding animals in essence; coming from herds that are more than six months from their herd test.
“In recent weeks, there have been heavy negotiations on payment for any testing and the ICSA position is very clear – the fundamental principle that farmers only pay for one herd test a year cannot be breached and any additional testing will have to be funded by the department,” Farrell said.