Just when beef farmers felt that life could not get any more ‘stress-filled’ has come the confirmation that producers under TB restriction will not be allowed to buy store animals, until they have had one clear herd test. The story came to light earlier this morning when an irate Co Meath farmer rang the AgriLand office claiming that he had been told by Department of Agriculture vets not to go near a mart in the wake of a reactor animal having been identified subsequent to slaughter.

The farmer, who did not wish to be named, said “This is total madness. It could take weeks for the Department vets to test the cattle that are currently on the farm. And given what happened at the meat plant, there is no guarantee that the herd will go clear on first test. In the meantime, grass growth is starting to take off and I need the cattle to eat it.

“This is the height of nonsense. I have now been put in a situation where my entire livelihood has been put in jeopardy through no fault of my own. “

ICSA Chief Executive Eddie Punch confirmed to AgriLand that the Department of Agriculture introduced its new interpretation of the existing TB testing and eradication measures at the beginning of the year.

“These are not new disease control policies,” he stressed.

“As I understand it, the Department of Agriculture has been told by Brussels to interpret the existing TB regulations, all of which have been in place for the best part of 40 years, more rigorously.

“And it really is a case of the European Commission taking the ‘big stick’ approach on this matter. Seemingly, Brussels has told Dublin in no uncertain terms that it would withhold nine million Euros of funding for new TB research until the existing disease control measures are implemented and interpreted in a much more rigorous fashion.”

Eddie Punch continued “However, it is generally accepted within the veterinary community here in Ireland that these latest measures,  introduced by the Department, will do little or nothing to help control the incidence of TB within the national cattle herd.”

He concluded “I have deep sympathy for those farmers who will be caught up in this evolving situation. There is little doubt that it will deeply affect farms and marts in TB hotspot regions.”