The additional funding for the eradication of TB that was announced in Budget 2022 on Tuesday (October 12) “must be used to put boots on the ground” to deal with TB from wildlife, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Speaking today, IFA animal health chairperson Pat Farrell said that the new funding committed to in the budget – particularly €6 million for wildlife control – is an “important commitment from the minister”.

Addressing journalists yesterday, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said recent data shows that the disease situation has stabilised and may be improving, but that “we cannot stand still”.

The minister said:

“I secured further funding for wildlife control, bringing the overall budget to €6 million for 2022, and expanding the scope of the targeted advisory service on animal health to provide farm-specific advice to impacted herd owners.”

The minister also stated that a ‘deer management forum’ would be established in conjunction with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

Responding to all of this, the IFA said that increasing resources for wildlife control is a “key component” in reducing levels of TB in the national herd; and that this is “where the focus of the Department of Agriculture must be”.

“This additional funding must be utilised immediately to put boots on the ground to deal with the TB problems caused by wildlife on our farms,” Farrell insisted.

The IFA animal health chairperson acknowledged the establishment of the deer management forum to “address the wide range of issues caused by the increasing deer population, including the TB threat”.

“TB continues to be a huge cost and stress for farmers and their families, and eradication of the disease in the shortest feasible timeframe must be the objective,” he argued.

Farrell continued: “In achieving this, measures must be scientifically-based and practical to implement at farm level.

“Farmers have to be supported through the huge imposition of herd restrictions where possible and fully compensated for costs incurred and losses experienced where this is not provided,” he added.