Saturday 1 October 2016

3,200 farmers waiting for compensation on 2014 culls

Published 30/09/2015 | 02:30

Denis Naughten TD
Denis Naughten TD

The Department of Agriculture's BVD eradication policy has been slammed following the revelation that farmers have been waiting over 18 months for their compensation to be paid on persistently infected (PI) calves.

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Speaking in the Dail, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney admitted that none of the 3,200 applications for compensation on calves culled in 2014 have been paid yet, although he added that payments would commence "shortly".

Independent TD for Roscommon and South Leitrim, Denis Naughten said the Minister was being "a bit disingenuous when it's taking him so long to pay farmers while threatening to name and shame those who are slow to remove PI calves."

Mr Coveney stated last week that the objective of the €120 compensation per calf was to incentivise the culling of PI calves. A payment of €75 is made for the second and each subsequent PI female dairy breed calf born in 2014 and removed to a knackery with a recorded date of death on the AIM system.

Department officials indicated that payments would commence in the next six weeks.

While progress has been made nationally on the reduction of BVD down from an estimated 14,000 PI calves being born annually, it is taking much longer than the original three-year timeline to get the disease under control.

Despite almost 100pc of calves born since 2013 being tested, over 3,500 PI calves have been born so far this year and 6,300 herds have come into contact with a PI animal during the last 12 months.

More worrying is the fact that the number of known PIs alive on farms still stands at 1,578, even if this represents a reduction of 42pc on last year.

The prize at stake for the dairy and beef sectors is considerable, estimated to be worth €102m annually if the herd was deemed BVD free. Based on the reduction in disease levels to date, it is estimated that the programme has provided savings of over €50m for the sector this year.

A number of measures have been rolled out to encourage farmers to speed up the removal of PIs, including an increase in the compensation rates this year; the exclusion from the Beef Data and Genomics Programme of herds retaining PIs; the restriction of herds retaining PI calves for more than seven weeks; and the notification of herdowners whose neighbours are retaining PI animals.

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