Farm Ireland

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Movement controls sought as BVD eradication scheme looms

Martin Ryan

Movement restrictions look likely to accompany the introduction of the voluntary BVD eradication scheme that is set to kick off next year.

Animal Health Ireland (AHI) is calling for BVD to be made a notifiable disease, with consequent movement restrictions and legal obligations to stamp the passports of animals testing positive for the disease.

The fear is that without compulsory restrictions on livestock movement, it will be impossible to stop the sale of persistently infected (PI) animals to unsuspecting farmers.

For this reason, AHI will later this week be discussing with Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney whether movement restrictions should apply to all PI calves and possibly the calves' dams.

AHI is on the cusp of securing a voluntary BVD eradication scheme for next year, followed by a compulsory scheme for 2013 and 2014, and a three-year monitoring programme thereafter.

It is believed that more than 90pc of breeding herds in the country have been exposed to BVD infection in recent years.

AHI chairman Mike Magan said that with the full cost of the scheme being borne by farmers, it would need to be efficient, competitive and effectively run, with a choice of testing labs available to farmers and competitively costed tags.

ICMSA president Jackie Cahill has indicated that his organisation would be supporting legislation to give effect to movement controls.

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"Farmers are strongly of the view that a PI must not, under any circumstances, be moved or be allowed to be moved, from the herd of identification into another herd," he said.

The IFA's Donal O'Brien said that suckler farmers could be worst affected by scheme.

"If a suckler farmer has a number of PI's, it could have a big effect on the income for the year if the animals have to be removed from the herd," said Mr O'Brien.

"The dairy farmer will not be as badly affected because the calf is only part of their income.

"However, we have to be realistic and accept that it would be very hard to get compensation in the current environment, and we do want to support getting rid of the infection from herds."

But Mr O'Brien pointed out that farmers are facing a cost of 50c for the extra tissue tag for testing and €2.50-4 per animal for the laboratory test.

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