‘Realistic wildlife culling policy needed before agreement on TB eradication can be reached’

Former UFU president Greer McCollum has called on the current Union leadership not to reach any agreement regarding a future TB eradication policy for Northern Ireland until such time as DAERA agrees a realistic wildlife culling policy.

He made this point at a Union roadshow meeting, held in Limavady earlier this week, which was attended by the current Union presidential team.

A call was also made by a significant number of attending Union members for the organisation’s leadership to secure improved TB reactor compensation rates.

These proposals from the floor of the meeting came in the wake of the recently published report by Northern Ireland’s TB strategic partnership group.

It seeks to plot a way forward where the final eradication of bovine TB in Northern Ireland is concerned.

Responding, Union president Barclay Bell said that UFU representatives will meet members of strategy group in the very near future.

The Union recognises the proven role played by wildlife in spreading bovine TB and we will not sign up to a final agreement which does not take full account of this reality.

“We recognise there was never going to be a solution that would satisfy everyone. That reflects the contrast between the views of farmers and those opposed to tackling the wildlife link.

“However, where we do have common ground it is knowing that the present situation cannot continue.  That approach has failed: new solutions have to be found,” he said.

Bell also said there are things the UFU like about the report, including the need to tackle the wildlife link, the plan for local bodies to oversee TB eradication and that fact that it is a coordinated approach.

“We have concerns about some of the technical plans for breakdown farms.

“The Union is up for consultation and we realise difficult decisions will have to be taken.

“Fundamentally, safeguarding our livestock farmers and their businesses will ultimately decide our view of the report and the proposed way ahead,” he said.