Farm Ireland

Sunday 24 March 2019

Concerns over moves to cut TB outbreak compensation for farmers who don't act to reduce their disease risks

It will take decades to fully eradicate TB from cattle, says Prof More (Chris Bacon/PA)
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Concerns have been raised over moves to cut TB outbreak compensation for farmers who have not acted to reduce their disease risks, writes Louise Hogan.

It is understood an interim report from the TB forum suggests that farmers should be incentivised to undertake a range of actions.

This would include voluntarily slaughtering any animals within 12 months that have previously tested inconclusive and re-tested negative.

Farmers who fail to act would face cuts to compensation levels for any future outbreak while the inconclusive animal remains in the herd.

ICSA animal health chair Hugh Farrell warned it would not agree to farmers' TB status being disclosed in any way, shape or form.

"Any suggestions which would result in less than 100pc compensation for affected farmers are totally unacceptable and the minister is barking up the wrong tree if he thinks department proposals as outlined will wash," said Mr Farrell.

"ICSA will not sign up to any new strategy unless key issues around wildlife and compensation details are agreed. The ongoing head-in-the-sand approach from the Department regarding the role of deer in TB spread is untenable and is a red-line issue," said Mr Farrell.

It is understood the proposals to go to the Minister also currently state that if a farmer chooses not to implement biosecurity advice, the compensation should also be cut in any future TB breakdown.

It says this would have a significant impact on the eradication of TB by 2030.

The report highlights that a farmer who puts in place a risk management plan should see an improvement of their bovine TB herd risk category.

It warns that the eradication programme as it stands is not sufficient to remove the disease by 2030 or reduce it significantly below the current 3.5pc herd incidence annually.

However, it was unable to reach agreement on policies that would have the most impact. It is understood these included placing a farmers' TB status on mart boards.

It is also planned that the Department's system for rating a herd's risk status would be simplified to include the number of years since a herd was restricted and whether it is low, medium or high risk.

This risk category could then be carried on TB-related correspondence.

Indo Farming