Farm Ireland

Monday 19 February 2018

Confusion reigns over BVD eradication scheme tag testing delays

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Confusion surrounds the Department of Agriculture's decision to reject the BVD tissue test tag, delaying the introduction of the national BVD eradication scheme.

The BVD Implementation Group, led by Animal Health Ireland, is seeking an urgent meeting with Department of Agriculture officials to clarify whether the tag was rejected because of tender issues or tag security issues.

Members of the group have raised concerns about over-zealous tag testing carried out by Department officials. A number of sources have indicated that the officials could have used testing procedures that would be impossible to repeat in a farm situation.

When contacted by the Farming Independent for details of the testing procedures, the Department of Agriculture did not respond.

Liam Egan, of Mullinahone Co-op, said he was not informed about any issue with the tag, except that the Department had informed him of "technical difficulties" and that it would be extending the existing tag contract with Mullinahone/Allflex for an extra eight months".

Animal Health Ireland chairman Mike Magan said there was a huge determination within the industry to keep as much of the BVD eradication scheme on track as possible, despite the tag issue.

"There has been considerable goodwill built up for this scheme across the entire industry," Mr Magan said.

"If the scheme is delayed, there is a possibility that we will lose much of that goodwill."

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The BVD eradication programme had been due to start on a voluntary basis in January before moving to a compulsory phase in 2013. Animals with clear tests were expected to fetch a premium on the market.

BVD costs farmers €30 per suckler cow and €48 per dairy cow on average, equating to a total loss of more than €100m across the industry.

Caitriona Murphy

Indo Farming