'BVD Programme changes not harsh enough on those that hold on to PI animals'

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The ICMSA has said that latest enhancements to the BVD programme for 2017 will result in some of the improvements it sought but the lack of decisive action on the small number of herd owners retaining Persistently Infected (PI) animals is proving the major stumbling block to the programme moving towards its goal of eradication.

According to Pat McCormack, Deputy President of ICMSA the reality is that a small number of herd owners are holding all other farmers to ransom by not disposing of their PI animals and the Minister and his Department alone have the necessary powers to address this matter. 

"Farmers will ask themselves where is the element of compulsion in these proposals that will make those reckless farmers who retain PI animals remove them from their herd at this time?

"Remember that these animals can be retained for up to three years and they present a risk to healthy animals right throughout that period. 

"We regret to say that we see none of that determination and element of compulsion that we feel is ultimately required to make the programme successful in its  stated aim and therefore compliant farmers are going to continue to pay for the Department’s inaction on this matter. 

"There needs to be specific compulsory measures introduced by the Minister to force these non-compliant and non-participating herds to remove PIs immediately”, stated the ICMSA Deputy President.

McCormack said that other measures to be introduced, such as automatic notification of neighbours, were long overdue and had been requested by ICMSA since the programme was launched .

He said that his organization would watch the situation closely to check that the change was indeed introduced as promises had been made on this issue going back to February 2015. 

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The payment of confirmatory testing is a particularly welcome step as well as the increased level of supports for those farmers who do the right thing and dispose of their confirmed PIs. 

The new features including a payment for dairy bulls and dairy heifer crosses are also positive and overdue. 

In relation to payment for PI animals, during the latest Farmers’ Charter meeting ICMSA asked the Department to bring forward these payments and in addition, inform those farmers whose applications has been rejected.  

“This needs to be done in the interest of fairness and will allow those farmers an opportunity to appeal that rejection”, he said.

“It’s always important to note and acknowledge those improvements that we’ve been lobbying for, but I must also express the frustration felt by all those farmers really making an effort to do the right thing and help the BVD Programme when we see the continuing reluctance to grasp the nettle and force those reckless farmers who are retaining PIs to dispose of them and therefore decisively remove the threat”, he said.

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