Department refutes claims it's undervaluing TB rectors

Department accused of ‘interfering’ in the valuation of TB reactors

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Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Department of Agriculture has refuted claims that it is undervaluing animals that test positively for TB.

The Department has been criticised by the IFA for what it says is its ‘interference’ with the independence of the live valuation scheme, and a resulting under-valuation of animals removed as TB reactors from farms.

Furthermore, IFA Animal Health Chairman Bert Stewart has said it is not only farmers who are experiencing difficulties in dealing with the scheme.

He said a large number of highly-qualified independent valuers, contracted by the Department to carry out valuations, have also raised their frustrations to IFA at being prevented by the Department of Agriculture from assessing the true market value of animals for farmers.

He said the rigid and unnecessary imposition of a draconian penalty point system by the Department of Agriculture on qualified, experienced and Department trained independent valuers for areas relating to the valuation of animals completely undermines the independence of the scheme and the valuers, resulting in farmers not receiving a fair and impartial valuation of their animals.

“This system must be removed.

“It is further compounded by the compilation of weekly guideline prices by the Department of Agriculture that fail to reflect the true market value of animals, particularly higher merit animals and quality animals that normally would not be offered for sale,” he said.

Based on analysis carried out by IFA, the prices available in the marketplace are well above the guideline prices compiled by the Department of Agriculture to which valuers are expected to rigidly adhere.

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The disparity ranges from €100s for commercial animals to €1,000s for higher merit animals, it says.

“Rigid and impractical guidelines for the categorisation of animals in areas such as milk yield and category is also severely restricting the value animals can attain in the scheme,” Stewart said.

The Department does not accept that the supervision system in place in relation to valuers under the On Farm Valuation system and the provision of weekly summary prices for guidance purposes to the valuers compromises the independence of system. 

The Department believes that the valuation system is effectively implemented and that these quality control arrangements, which have been in place since the introduction of the valuation system in 2001, are the minimum needed  in order to ensure that Irish and EU funds are properly expended and that valuations are in line with the prices for similar animals being offered in the market place.

It says that recent a EU financial audit of the TB Eradication Scheme found that the prices being paid for reactor animals were fair and in line with prices being quoted in the Irish media.

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