UFU: ‘Farmers should not miss out on BVD scheme opportunity’

Livestock farmers should ensure that they get into the BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea) Incentive Scheme, which targets the removal of BVD-infected animals.

That’s the message from Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), Deputy president, Victor Chestnutt. He explained: “Funding for the scheme is limited, but DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise) is offering financial support for the early removal of BVD-positive calves.

“This support is expected to be available up to the end of September but, to date, uptake has been modest,” Chestnutt said.

“For some time, the UFU has been pressing for measures to encourage farmers to remove persistently-infected (PI) animals quickly.

This is about eliminating BVD from Northern Ireland and, with this financial incentive in place, those reluctant to cull PI animals have no reason to retain them.

The UFU says anyone that has a BVD-positive calf should use the scheme to help with the drive to secure national BVD-free status. This, says the organisation, will bring benefits for the entire livestock industry.

“Our members wanted to see the funding from the EU Exceptional Adjustment aid scheme used to support animal health measures. They wanted to see programmes that deliver lasting benefits.

“DAERA responded with a scheme to facilitate the removal of BVD-positive calves and we now want to see a greater and more enthusiastic uptake by farmers,” said Chestnutt.

According to the UFU, the supports are as follows: £160 for a beef calf; £130 for a dairy heifer calf; and £50 for a dairy bull calf.

Only animals which are humanely destroyed on or after February 1, 2017 are eligible for payment and certain criteria must be met. Guidance notes and application forms can be found on the AHWNI website.