TB Forum cost and control proposals rejected by IFA

Proposals by the TB Forum to increase TB controls and costs on farms have been rejected by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

IFA animal health chairman Pat Farrell said the proposals, which “refuse to address the shortcomings in the current compensation schemes”, have been rejected by the IFA National Council.

The chairman said “farmers have had enough of the endless controls and restrictions on their farms by the Department of Agriculture, with no appreciation of the impact”.

He said it is now up to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, to decide if he is prepared to support farmers “who are exposed to his department’s controls and enormous associated impact on their farms” or if he is going to push ahead with increasing further these costs and controls.

Farrell said the TB Forum, established to involve stakeholders in the decision-making process for the TB eradication programme, has failed to deliver on this key objective.

He said the forum merely functioned as a vehicle for the Department of Agriculture to impose their views of the TB programme.

Eradication of the disease in the shortest feasible time-frame must be the objective, he added; however, farmers will not accept additional controls until the deficiencies in the current compensation schemes are addressed.

Funding

According to Farrell, farmer costs in the TB Eradication Programme have increased by 15% since 2012, while the costs for others have reduced.

In figures quoted by the IFA, direct farmer contributions since 2012 increased to around €35.2 million, while in the same time period, the department’s contribution fell marginally to €45.5 million and EU financing dropped to around €9.7 million.

Farrell said that these figures represent a drop in funding from the department and the EU by 1% and 12% respectively up to 2018.

Compensation

Continuing, the chairman noted the IFA made submissions on necessary changes to the: Live Valuation Scheme; Income Supplement Scheme; Depopulation Grant Scheme; and the Hardship Grant to offset the burden of controls on farmers.

Farrell said representatives of the minister at the forum stated they will not support any increases to compensation rates for farmers.

This has “frustrated the work of the forum and prevented any meaningful progress being made”, he claimed.

Farrell called on the minister for agriculture to immediately clarify his position on this critical issue for farmers.

TB breakdowns

The objective must be to reduce the number of farms having TB breakdowns – but farmers who go down with TB breakdowns cannot be “ignored” to deal with the consequences, the chairman said.

These farmers must be fully supported through what is an extremely difficult, traumatic and costly experience.

He said the minister must confirm to farmers if the views expressed by his officials at the TB Forum are consistent with his views and if not resolve the issue as a matter of urgency.

In addition, he said IFA strongly rejects the EU proposal to impose 30-day pre-movement testing on farms over six months tested.

The minister and Irish MEPs must “stand up and be counted by outrightly rejecting this unscientific, market distorting proposal that will not contribute to eradication of the disease in support of Irish farmers which could cost €20 million annually”, Farrell concluded.

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