It was said at an Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine meeting on the Bovine TB Eradication Programme that it was “the pre-movement test that got rid of brucellosis out of the country”.

Speaking at the hearing this afternoon, Tuesday, October 1, Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill suggested: “If the Department of Agriculture thinks that a pre-movement test can bring around a significant improvement, let the department carry the cost and it might be money well spent in the short term.

What we’re doing up until now has reduced the TB incidents to a certain level, but it hasn’t reduced them any further.

He outlined: “Currently, when you test, you have a 12-month period for selling your animals.”

The committee heard from representatives from the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

Cahill noted that if the suggestion was implemented and was having an impact, “it would probably increase the number of reactors in the short term”.

If the department thinks it is a tool worth having, let it carry the cost of the testing.

However, Cahill acknowledged: “It would create an inconvenience for farmers but brucellosis did this in the past and it was a serious cost and a serious inconvenience but we did get rid of the disease and we have brucellosis-free status now.

Some people said in the past that we would never get to this status and we would never achieve it. But strenuous and vigorous testing got to it; it cost farmers a fortune of money but it was got rid of.

“If the department feels that cattle – after six months of the test  – are posing a risk to the health of the national herd, then this might be a vehicle,” he reiterated.

Concluding, Cahill reiterated: “It’s something I wouldn’t rule out completely, as long as the department carries the cost.”