Farm Ireland

Monday 19 March 2018

BVD budget fund boost as tag sales hit 13,000 in first week

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

THE BVD eradication scheme is set to receive a boost in December's Budget, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney.

Speaking at the ICMSA AGM in Limerick on Saturday, the minister revealed that money has been set aside to cover the cost of removing BVD persistently infected (PI) animals from the national cattle herd.

However, Mr Coveney cautioned farmers that the fund for PI removals would be in the order of "hundreds of thousands, not millions".

The announcement comes as a welcome boost to Animal Health Ireland's BVD scheme, which has been teetering on the brink following the announcement by the ICMSA and the vets that they would not stand over a scheme that allowed farmers to sell on PI animals.

"It is my strong preference that we don't see PI animals sold and potentially bred, passing on BVD," Mr Coveney told the conference.

"I have put in the budget a small amount of money to support farmers with the cost of removing those animals from the system," he told the ICMSA members at the AGM.

"It is my view that we could, within three to four years, entirely eradicate BVD from this country, which would be a phenomenal achievement."

More than 13,000 BVD tags have been ordered in the first week on the market, despite Animal Health Ireland (AHI), the group responsible for rolling out the disease eradication programme, heading into another crunch meeting on the plan today.

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There is huge interest in the scheme as more than 1,000 farmers attended the series of meetings being held by AHI around the country over the past two weeks.

However, the issue of whether farmers should be allowed to sell animals that have tested positive for BVD still threatens to derail the planned launch of the scheme on January 1.

It is believed that the exact time-frame required to introduce a legal framework to outlaw the sale of BVD positive cattle will be outlined at a meeting today to the 11 separate parties that make up AHI's BVD implementation group.

While the ICMSA was in favour of the introduction of a statutory instrument to outlaw the sale of BVD animals because of the short time-frame associated with this approach, it now appears that this route has been ruled out. Any changes to the law surrounding the sale of cattle that have tested positive for BVD will also require EU approval.

"The same common laws that prevent retailers selling faulty goods will provide farmers with more protection than they realise in relation to the purchase of BVD stock," said AHI chairman Mike Magan.

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