New Department of Agriculture proposals for the future have been heavily criticised by the IFA and labelled as ‘insulting’ to farmers by its Animal Health, Chairman Bert Stewart.

Following a meeting with Department officials this week on the TB programme, Stewart accused the Department of Agriculture of failing to take account of the huge financial impact the loss of animals has on individual farms.

He said farmers are holding the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney responsible and he must immediately intervene as a matter of urgency to address the issues identified by IFA in the detailed submissions made to him.

Stewart said the proposed changes from the Department represent nothing more than a redistribution of existing programme costs, do not utilise the full budget allocation, is insulting to farmers and shows no understanding of the turmoil caused by TB episodes at farm level.

“The rates of payment in the Programme have not changed in over 20 years and this is unacceptable,” he said.

Department proposals

  • According to the IFA the Department are proposing a reduction to the depopulation grant of €12/month for dairy cows while only increasing the level of income supplement to €45, leaving suckler cow rates unchanged.
  • It also says the Department are reducing the valuation prices for dairy cows by an average of €134/head by reducing the co-efficient from €1.35 to 23c per unit EBI based on a Teagasc analysis of market prices which were recorded by the Department.
  • Furthermore, the IFA have also said the Department proposal to increase the maximum amount payable under the live valuation scheme by €200 and €300 respectively for all animals and for stock bulls does not adequately address the shortcomings in the scheme for high merit animals.

In relation to the purchase in restriction being imposed by the Department of Agriculture on farms until they undergo a clear test Stewart said it is not equitable, fair or acceptable.

He said that the livelihoods of these farmers is being taken away by the Department in order to draw down €14m in EU funding towards the TB compensation scheme while providing no financial support to the farmers affected most by the controls.

“If the Department of Agriculture are not in a position to allow these farmers stock their farms full compensation for TB losses incurred must be paid,” he said.

Stewart said he has written to the Minister highlighting the urgency of resolving the issues pertaining to the TB programme which will significantly reduce the cost burden for farmers.