Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 December 2017

'Conspiracy of silence' threatens BVD scheme

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

The future of the BVD eradication scheme remains uncertain following the ICMSA's accusation that "a conspiracy of silence" surrounds the initiative's stance on the sale of animals infected with BVD.

The damning statement comes following a series of crisis meetings with Animal Health Ireland's (AHI) implementation group to try to keep the scheme on track for its scheduled launch next month.

"While it may be the case that no organisation is in favour of PI animals being sold, the reality is that there is a fairly obvious conspiracy of silence on the matter," said the ICMSA's dairy chairman, Pat McCormack.

"Information which would identify a known persistently infected (PI) animal will not be passed on to the purchaser until they have actually bought the animal and brought it home and introduced it to their own herd," added Mr McCormack.

"AHI has put together a framework of the legal obligations on a person who sells an identified PI animal. However, the system does not actively prevent the sale of such an animal -- and that is precisely [the] ICMSA's objection to the proposals. An identified PI animal should never be allowed to go through a mart.

"And the only thing more farcical than allowing such an animal to be sold with 'PI' flashing on the mart board is the idea that such an animal could be sold without any warning at all. The bottom line here is that any agency that sits on information concerning PI animals when they could -- and should -- have disclosed that information is very likely to be sued in exactly the same way as the seller of the animal is liable to be sued," he said.

The voluntary scheme has been in disarray since both the ICMSA and Veterinary Ireland threatened to pull out of the initiative weeks before the start date.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has asked his legal advisers to start drawing up a basis for legislation that would ban the sale of BVD positive animals.

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However, the implementation group has been told that this could take up to 12 months to pass into law.

Veterinary Ireland has agreed to work with the initiative on the basis that a more focused effort is now being made to address the issue.

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