Farm Ireland

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Farmer rage forces '20-mile' climb down

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The Department of Agriculture has deferred implementation of the controversial '20-mile' rules, which would have required thousands of farmers to apply for a second herd number.

The embarrassing climb down came in the wake of a furious reaction from farm organisations, which had warned that the regulations were unworkable.

The proposed rules, which were outlined in letters to more than 2,500 farmers recently, would have required many livestock owners with land more than 20 miles from their home-holding to apply for a new herd number.

Affected farmers would also have been required to carry out pre-movement blood testing and AIMS notification prior to moving animals.

However, following talks with farm organisations late last week, the Department pulled back from enforcing the measures immediately.

"The Department has deferred implementation pending clarification of a number of issues, in particular the circumstances in which a land parcel more than 20 miles from the home farm does not necessitate acquiring a separate herd number," a statement issued on Friday confirmed.


However, Department officials said they were not in a position to confirm whether farms would be assessed on an individual basis regarding the proposals or if general guidelines for the new rules would be drawn up.

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Farm organisations reacted angrily to the proposals. John Waters, head of the IFA's animal health project team, said the Department proposals were unworkable, bureaucratic, costly and unnecessary.

Mr Waters said any amended proposals must not interfere with normal day-to-day farm practices or add further layers of bureaucracy and cost on farmers.

Mr Waters said the 2,500 farmers who received letters regarding this issue should ignore the letters and take no further action at this time. Amended letters will be issued by the Department of Agriculture to herd owners following a consultation process.

ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin welcomed the Department's decision to delay implementation of the controversial rules.

"ICSA argued that the 20-mile distinction is arbitrary and without any scientific foundation," he said.

"We also highlighted the huge bureaucratic burden and cost associated with the measure, which would have little or no real benefits in terms of disease eradication or control."

Irish Independent