ICSA Ireland, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association, is calling on the authorities to ensure that TB restrictions are sufficiently flexible to allow beef finishers to buy-in cattle.

ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan said: “At the moment, several DVOs allow farmers to apply for a derogation to purchase cattle while their herd is either restricted due to TB or suspected TB.  This derogation is extremely important for beef finishers who depend on being able to buy in cattle for their livelihood. As these farmers only ever sell cattle to meat plants, there is no question of spreading the disease to other farms.

“However, this measure is currently under scrutiny by the European Commission, who may insist that this facility be removed for all restricted or suspect herds.  This would have a devastating impact on the incomes of beef finishers who rely on being able to buy in store cattle to make their living.”

“ICSA is insisting that the current common sense approach applied by a number of DVOs remains in place and is built into future national policy on this issue.  TB eradication is taken very seriously by farmers but flexibility is extremely important in order to allow finishers to make their living.”

TB level is Ireland are currently at their lowest level ever. There were only 10,639 reactors up to the end of September, a massive 24 per cent drop from the corresponding figure of 14,078 for the first nine months of 2012.