Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has welcomed what he called the “positive start” to the Finance Working Group that was recently set up under the TB Stakeholder Forum.

The group, which is chaired by Gerry Kiely, held its first meeting today (Thursday, March 4).

“The Bovine TB Eradication Programme is our largest animal health programme and is subject to substantial financial support from farmers and taxpayers,” the minister noted.

In recognition of this, the terms of reference for the Finance Working Group tasks them with a heavy workload, particularly the need to ensure that the TB Programme is sustainably and appropriately funded.

He called on all stakeholders to “work together in order to drive down TB rates”.

Minister McConalogue argued: “If the objectives of the group are to be achieved, it is vital that all stakeholders work together in a constructive and cooperative manner.

I am tasking this working group with delivering for farmers.

“I am aware that the first meeting of the group today had a very positive start, with all parties expressing their commitment to achieving the objectives as set down in the terms of reference,” he added.

The minister concluded: “I look forward to seeing the results of this group when they report to the forum.”

The Finance Working Group comprises officials from Minister McConalogue’s department as well as farm organisation representatives.

According to the department, its terms of reference are:

  • Developing a sustainable funding model for the ongoing financial requirements of the TB programme, based on an independent cost benefit analysis;
  • Proposing initiatives consistent with providing fair valuations of reactor animals in a timely and cost-effective manner;
  • Examining the adequacy of financial supports available under the TB programme and ensuring they are targeted effectively;
  • Aligning eligibility for financial supports with risk-mitigation measures.