May too soon for BVD deadline, FFA warns

A farming lobby body in Northern Ireland has said that the May deadline is too early for the slaughter of all Bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) PI animals, adding that “proper compensation” is necessary to eradicate the disease.

Speaking on behalf of the steering committee, FFA’s NI co-ordinator farmer William Taylor said he was “concerned” about the current timetable.

“The industry has suggested May 1 for all BVD animals for beef to be slaughtered. We suggest instead that it should be the end of the year simply to allow some hard-pressed farming families to maximise their financial situation,” he said.

A total of 0.68% of calves born in Northern Ireland between January 1 and November 30, 2017 tested positive for the disease under the new tag sample programme.

Just last night the Ulster Farmers’ Union deputy president Victor Chestnutt announced the UFU had reached a deal with the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association to ban BVD PI cattle after the May 1 cull deadline.

‘Concerns from the beginning’

Taylor added: “The committee voiced its concerns since the beginning of the programme about the lack of full compensation for beef and dairy calves.

“The committee has received warnings from other regions, that without proper compensation it would be extremely difficult to completely eradicate BVD in a reasonable time frame.”

800 farms still affected

“The committee concluded that, with some 800 farms still carrying BVD animals and inadequate compensation in place, the blame for inadequate compensation must lie at the Department of Agriculture’s door for not in the beginning coming forward with a proper compensate package for beef and dairy calves.

Taylor said he believed that if more had been done BVD could have been eradicated.

“Millions of tax payers’ money would have been saved and therefore the minuscule amount of money needed to fund compensation for farmers to remove BVD calves would have been available,” he said.

“The committee now requests immediately from the Department for Agriculture proper compensation for BVD calves and calls on the industry to make the end of the year as the final date for BVD animals to be beefed where suitable.

“It is worth bearing in mind for those hard-pressed families that the abattoirs will accept animals over 12 months of age.”