Bovine tuberculosis (TB) eradication targets for 2030 cannot be met without additional state funding, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has said.

The ICSA animal health and welfare chair, Hugh Farrell said Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue needs to secure further funding under the TB Eradication Strategy.

Farm organisations are taking a constructive approach, he added, because TB has imposed so much pain on farms for several generations. However, Farrell explained:

“This cannot be done for cheap, and if we want to gain a bit of forward momentum, now is the time to provide the support with a view to saving money in the long term.”

When the TB Stakeholder Forum was initially set up, according to Farrell, farmers were led to believe that funding would not be an obstacle if a good strategy was agreed.

However, now it looks like this is a major sticking point, he added, and Minister McConalogue must realise that the increase in agri-food exports also has consequences in terms of costs.

“Total agri-food exports in 2020 surpassed €14 billion which is a 60% increase on 2010 figures. It is plainly absurd to think that this increase, strongly related to a 50% increase in dairy cows, can be sustained without increased spending on TB,” the ICSA chair said.

He added that the ICSA believes 100% of compensation – no more, no less – on large herds is a fundamental principle, and progress in terms of income supplement is needed.

“Infectious diseases cannot be tackled with penny pinching especially if we are to reach the target of 2030 eradication. If this was achieved, the government would save a fortune in the long term, but you have to invest to accumulate,” the ICSA chair said.