Compensation issues key to TB policy, insist farmers

ICMSA deputy president Lorcan McCabe
ICMSA deputy president Lorcan McCabe
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Compensation issues for farmers in the event of a TB outbreak must be addressed before new policy measures are discussed, it has been urged.

The expenditure on the programme to eradicate TB must be front-loaded to deliver compensation in the initial stages when incidences are higher, and help remove 'inconclusive' animals, the ICMSA stated.

"The proposals appear intent on penalising farmers under various headings while not addressing their legitimate fears," said the ICMSA's Lorcan McCabe. "Farmers will not buy into the current proposals because their legitimate concerns are not being dealt with."

The ICMSA's stance follows a draft disease policy report discussed at last week's meeting of the TB Forum.

The Department said the forum has been unable to reach agreement on policies most likely to have the greatest impact on reducing TB and it is unlikely to lead to its eradication by 2030. The ICMSA pointed out that farmers want to see TB eradicated but legitimate concerns must be recognised. It was claimed that a comprehensive wildlife programme was needed.

The Department outlined that it has been carrying out a programme of culling and vaccination of badgers which it believes will have a significant impact. However, it feels there is no evidence that deer play a significant role in most of the country. Deer culling is carried out in the blackspot of Wicklow.

IFA health chair Pat Farrell said the TB Forum has continually frustrated efforts to address the critical issues for farmers.

Mr Farrell claimed that despite the commitments given by the Minister for Agriculture, the TB Forum is functioning as a "vehicle for the Department", but is ignoring the issues raised by farmers. He said compensation issues for farmers must be addressed in advance of entering discussions on additional policy measures.

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Mr Farrell said farmers were providing €54m annually, both directly and indirectly, and farmers' direct contribution had increased by over €5m since 2012.

The ICSA said it will not sign up to any new strategy unless key issues around wildlife and compensation details are agreed.

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