BVD scheme deserves credit despite issues
The birth of the BVD eradication programme is encountering some last-minute complications.
Both the vets and the ICMSA feel that launching the scheme without making it illegal for a farmer to sell a BVD infected animal to another farmer is half baked. Not only this, but they also believe that it gives a carte blanche to unscrupulous types that will see the first voluntary year of the scheme as a window of opportunity to off-load infected animals before either the awareness or the laws governing such a move catch up.
The gravity of such carry on cannot be over-stated. BVD is already endemic in many herds throughout the country and estimated to be costing Irish farmers €100m a year. The farming community paid too high a price for what went on with Foot and Mouth, TB and Brucellosis to put up with any tolerance for messing around with BVD.
The strides that Animal Health Ireland (AHI) has made on this issue deserve to be applauded. Proof of that is the fact that the organisation is being contacted by several countries around the world, from Northern Ireland to New Zealand, to learn from how it has progressed to this point.
Even the head of the European dairy giant Friesland Campina has been in touch with Mike Magan, the determined AHI chairman, to find out how it should be done.
But as with everything in life, the practicalities of rolling out a BVD eradication programme and keeping everybody on side are less straight forward.
It is true that the existing guidelines for the eradication programme state that animals that test positive for BVD should not be sold on to other farmers. It is also true that unscrupulous farmers will be able to by-pass any obligation to declare that an animal is infected by getting them tested outside the system altogether.