The IFA has welcomed the decision by the EU's Standing Committee of the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) to discontinue the BSE testing of healthy slaughter animals from early next year.
The association's animal health chairman, John Waters, said the move would save Irish farmers up to €5m annually, since all slaughter animals over 72 months of age are BSE tested at a cost of €20/hd.
Mr Waters said the decision to end BSE testing on healthy animals was a "logical step".
He said BSE had been a major cost burden for farmers and called on Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to ensure the changes were implemented at the earliest opportunity.
The IFA chairman said the new controls would also create significant savings for the Department of Agriculture, due to the reduction in BSE testing. He called for these savings to be passed down to farmers by reducing the cost of eradication programmes for BVD and TB.
Schmallenberg search begins
Department of Agriculture veterinary staff are trawling through cattle and sheep tissue samples submitted to their laboratories during the summer and autumn of 2012 in an effort to estimate how widespread the Schmallenberg virus is in Ireland.
Staff are working on a retrospective analysis of diagnostic samples from cattle and sheep submitted before the first Schmallenberg case was discovered on October 30 on a farm in Cork. Since then, the virus has been confirmed on 13 farms in counties Wexford and Cork.
A spokesperson for the Department said the retrospective analysis was designed to establish the likely level and range of spread of infection across the country.
"It is expected that we will have concluded this survey early in the new year, at which time we will advise the outcome to the farming and veterinary communities," the spokesperson said.