TB issues to be discussed in finer detail at bilateral meetings after today’s forum

The new meeting of the TB Forum, held today (Thursday, October 1), has now concluded, with little agreement over the most pressing issues.

The focus now turns towards bilateral meetings between the various stakeholders – including farm organisations – and the department officials, before the forum reconvenes again in about three weeks’ time.

The meeting was attended by both Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue, and Minister of State with responsibility for new market development, farm safety, and research and development Martin Heydon.

It is understood both ministers were in attendance for the full meeting, which lasted for just over two hours.

The issues raised at the meeting – and which will be discussed in greater detail at the bilateral meetings – included, primarily, the TB Herd History Risk Statements and Reports, and farmer compensation.

On the issue of the TB risk statements – which has generated a great deal of controversy since they were issued to farmers a number of weeks ago – it is understood that the forum chairperson expressed some surprise that the letters were as detailed as they turned out to be.

On the issue of the wildlife (deer and badgers) effect on TB, it is understood that department officials argued that it was not strictly an issue for the department, which some farm organisation representatives disagreed with.

On the whole though, sources indicated that the meeting was broadly positive.

‘Compromises will have to be made’

Speaking yesterday, one TD argued that “compromises will have to be made” at the TB Forum in order for stakeholders to move forward.

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice called on Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, to “repair relations and actively consult farm organisations” at the meeting.

The department’s recent decision to issue farmers with TB record letters damaged its relationship with farmers and farm organisations alike due to the apparent lack of consultation.

“It appeared as if the department rushed through the decision to issue these TB letters to farmers with no minister at the helm and at a time when the last meeting of the TB forum was meant to take place – which caused a lot of consternation,” the Roscommon-Galway TD argued.