TB herd history risk statement roll-out ‘should be suspended for consultation’ – TD

The next minister for agriculture should immediately suspend the implementation of the new TB Herd History Risk Statement and Report system, according to independent TD Carol Nolan.

Deputy Nolan was speaking as farm organisations reacted with fury to the plans, which they say have the potential “to seriously devalue herds” with “no protection afforded to farmers.”.

Commenting, the TD for Laois-Offaly said: “Every farmer recognises the importance of taking appropriate and proportionate steps to minimise the containment of TB within herds. In fact, they have been doing this almost single-handedly for many years now.

But what is being proposed here by the department is a system of categorisation that has generated outright hostility among farmers.

“Last July when then Minister [for Agriculture Michael] Creed welcomed the submission of the report from the TB Forum, he accepted that there were no easy options left for dealing with bovine TB and we all accept that it is a difficult challenge,” deputy Nolan noted.

“But I have had ICSA [Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association] reps on to me…who genuinely feel that the new herd history system will create a two-tier farming sector and will decimate any farmer who has an incidence of TB in the last number of years.”

Continuing, the TD said:

There is a growing perception that the department is engaging in what has been described to me by cattle farmers as a ‘heavy handed bully boy approach’. That needs to be examined as a matter of urgency.

“We need collaboration and cooperation when it comes to eradicating TB. The new system if implemented seems almost designed to create division instead. It needs to be suspended pending further consultation,” deputy Nolan concluded.