The 2030 TB Stakeholder Forum is set to reconvene next week, on Tuesday, June 25, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed to AgriLand.

The forum is made up of: representatives from the department; farm organisations; the veterinary profession; the agri-food industry; and the farming and research communities, with the aim of eradicating bovine TB from the national herd by 2030.

The forum includes several associations and groups, including: the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA); the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA); the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA); and Macra na Feirme.

Beef Plan excluded

Back in February, at one of its most recent meetings, the forum attracted criticism – and a protest – from the Beef Plan Movement, which was aggrieved at not being given a seat at the table.

Members of the movement descended upon the department’s Backweston Campus in Celbridge, Co. Kildare, on February 20, to voice their anger.

Beef Plan Movement

Members of the Beef Plan Movement protest at the February 20 meeting of the TB Forum

During that protest, Beef Plan Movement chairman Eamon Corley told AgriLand: “We requested that we be allowed into the forum, to represent the 17,000 beef farmers who we think need to be represented in such an important forum.”

Corley argued that farmers are central to the eradication of TB, saying that denying them access to the forum would not help in any efforts to tackle the disease.

Reactor numbers down

Recently released figures from the department show that the number of TB reactors recorded in the first quarter of 2019 (Q1) was down by over 12% compared to the same period in 2018.

The department’s data showed that there were 2,863 reactors out of 27,081 herds tested in QI 2019. This was approximately 400 less than in Q1 2018, at 3,269 reactors, with over 700 less herds tested.

These figures indicate that the rate of reactors per 1,000 tests fell from 1.74 to 1.48 across the two periods.

However, the number of herds restricted increased slightly in Q1 2019 to 716, from the Q1 2018 figure of 681.