Demands for 'substantial' increase in TB compensation

Pat McCormack of the ICMSA
Pat McCormack of the ICMSA

Martin Ryan

Farmers are calling for the levels of compensation for herds impacted by TB to be substantially increased ahead of a key meeting with the Agriculture Department.

The meeting, which will be attended by department officials and the IFA, ICMSA and ICSA today, is also expected to hear concerns over the high costs of herd depopulations for farmers.

"There have been improvements in relation to the income supplement but they are inadequate to reflect the income loss for dairying," said the ICMSA's Pat McCormack.

Under the measures being proposed by the department the €25.39/hd income supplement for dairy cows would be increased to €45/hd. The depopulation payment, however, would drop from €57.13/head to €45/head.

The income supplement for suckler cows would be maintained at €38.09/head while the suckler depopulation payments would increase from €31.72/head to €38.09/head.

However, under the proposals herdowners would no longer be eligible for both the income supplement and the hardship grant, while the top up for EBI dairy cows would be reduced.

It comes as agreement over a controlled deer cull for the TB blackspot of Wicklow looks set to be announced shortly.

Tom Shortt, Wicklow IFA chair said that he is now "very optimistic" of all round agreement on a programme for the county being finalised.

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"I do expect, and the department has admitted that there has to be significant reduction in number, because the deer population in Wicklow has got out of control," he said.

Mr Shortt said losses to farmers in the Wicklow blackspot were estimated to be running at in excess of €1.5m a year.

A second survey of TB infection in deer in Wicklow, by the department is expected to show infection at 24pc in lower lying areas, compared to 16pc recorded in the initial survey which was carried out in the mountain/forest areas.

Mr Shortt said that the general public are now realising that there is a real problem with deer in the county coming into their gardens, and causing accidents on the road.

It follows confirmation of a cull of wild deer around Killarney due to concerns over road crashes.

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