The new BVD Eradication Programme supports announced yesterday by the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed fail to recognise farmers investment to date, IFA Animal Health Chairman Bert Stewart has said.

It is disappointing the Minister and his Department did not support farmers from the outset of the programme at the increased support levels, he said.

“Farmers who supported the programme from the start and took the enormous financial hit in disposing of their calves for little or no compensation feel rightly aggrieved at the decision not to retrospectively provide similar levels of support payment to them.”

Stewart said it will not go unnoticed with farmers that the Minister and his Department have taken the easy and cheaper option of only increasing payments when the numbers of PIs being identified have reduced to very low levels having left individual farmers carry an enormous cost burden in the earlier stages of the programme.

The Minister, his Department and Animal Health Ireland (AHI) cannot turn their backs on the farmers who have incurred these losses.

“In relation to the shorter window provided to claim the higher levels of compensation the retest facility has been a critical component of the programme to reduce the losses for farmers and effectively ruling out this option in order to avail of the higher levels of payment is a fundamental change with over 10% of retested animals testing negative.”

The IFA Chairman said the automatic restriction of herds must be balanced with immediate de-restriction when the PI animals are disposed of.

The Ministers decision to pay vets to carry out the retest, which was cost effectively and accurately completed by farmers in the programme up until now, must provide testing in a timely manner to avoid any unnecessary disruption to trade, he said.

The herd investigation funded by the Department of Agriculture from the Rural Development fund can be of enormous benefit both to individual farmers and for the purposes of informing the programme going forward if effectively implemented.

“However, in order for the herd investigations to provide these benefits significant improvements are required to the current model.

“These include a more timely and more detailed investigation in order to provide answers for farmers as to the source of the disease outbreak, to-date this has not being happening on a regular enough basis.”

Stewart said BVD eradication is costing farmers up to €9m annually and the benefits will only start to accrue when the this enormous cost is removed.

“IFA has sought direct support for all farmers towards this cost and it is very disappointing the Minister did not see fit to recognise this farmer investment in a meaningful way.”