EU ruling raises minimum BSE test age to 72 months
The minimum age for compulsory BSE testing has been increased to 72 months, following an EU decision last week.
From July, only animals over six years of age will be compulsorily tested for the disease.
The move from the current 48-month limit will mean savings of €1.7m per year for farmers who were paying an average of €20 per test.
The limit had already been increased from 30 months in the last two years. It comes on the back of news that only one animal tested positive for BSE here last year. At its peak in 2002, more than 300 animals were testing positive for the disease.
Ireland was one of 22 EU countries granted the concession in the age limit for testing. The IFA are now pushing for the limit to be increased again to exclude all animals born after the meat and bone-meal restrictions were put in place in 1997. The IFA estimate that this would remove another 240,000 cattle from the testing regime, saving farmers another €4.8m in the process.
The exceptions to the new limit are fallen animals, which still need to be tested once they are over 48 months of age. However, farmers do not pay for the test for these animals.
Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture has confirmed that more than 99pc of all SFP and disadvantaged area scheme applicants have now been paid. In addition, another 2,500 farmers will receive their final balancing DAS payments within the next few weeks. More than 83pc of the new Grassland Sheep Scheme has also been paid to more than 22,000 applicants so far this year.