'It's irresponsible and potentially very damaging to question the effectiveness of Irish TB controls'

Stock image: PA
Stock image: PA
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell has reacted angrily to the claims by Professor Simon Moore that cattle from Irish farms that meet the EU Trade Directive criteria for TB are not safe to trade.

Simon Moore was talking at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture this week and said a risk-based approach would be the only way to successfully eradicate the disease and said that it will be a “huge ask” for Ireland will be TB free by 2030.

Pat Farrell said Irish farmers, at enormous cost, meet the very strict criteria laid down in trade directives based on tests approved by the OIE to access our vital export markets. He said it is irresponsible and potentially very damaging for Irish farmers and the agri-sector to question the effectiveness of these controls.

The IFA Chairman said the responsibility rests with the Department of Agriculture to ensure all sources of the disease are removed from and surrounding TB breakdown farms during the restriction period, allowing these farms return to unhindered market access when derestricted.

As pointed out by Professor Moore, the ongoing risks in these herds are issues outside the control of farmers and include wildlife and residual infection.

Pat Farrell said IFA have put detailed proposals to the Department of Agriculture which reduces these risks and would allow animals from these herds trade as normal following de-restriction. However, he said the Department of Agriculture seem intent on passing the responsibility and costs for their failure to adequately address these issues to farmers.

The IFA Chairman said farmers are already at breaking point with the costs and impact of controls on their farms with the TB programme.  They will not accept any additional costs or controls until the deficiencies in the current compensation schemes are fully addressed.

He said farmers are willing to embrace scientifically-proven controls that are practical to implement and that will contribute to eradication of TB, provided there is a full compensation package to offset the enormous impact of TB on our farms. 

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