New TB test will damage live export trade, claim farm leaders
The imposition of a mandatory 30-day pre-movement test for TB could cost €20m a year and will damage Ireland's crucial live trade, the IFA and ICMSA have warned.
The farmer bodies have called on the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, and Irish MEPs to reject the proposal which is included in a new EU Animal Health Law Delegated Act.
Claiming that the primary beneficiaries of this measure will be vets and factories, the IFA's animal health chairman, Pat Farrell, said the proposal was "not scientifically based" and would represent "a major impediment to the competitive marketing of animals".
"Irish farmers contribute more than any other farmers throughout the EU directly to their TB programme and will not accept this additional cost burden and anti-competitive measure that will not contribute to eradication of the disease," Mr Farrell said.
The ICMSA is also vehemently opposed to the measure. "This blanket rule will not reduce the incidence of TB, and will simply add cost and additional workload on farmers," said ICMSA deputy president Lorcan McCabe.
In the Delegated Act currently open for public consultation, the EU is proposing a 30-day pre-movement test for all animals from herds that are over six months tested. The measure will come into operation in 2021 if passed.
"The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, and our MEPs cannot allow the EU to impose this anti-competitive market distorting expense on Irish farmers," Mr Farrell said.
He said the measure would impact very negatively on the functioning of the live export trade and the marts as the additional costs and inconvenience will drive more farmers directly to factories.
Meanwhile, Mr McCabe insisted that a renewed focus on TB eradication has to be the priority for the farm sector.
"We have been told at the TB Forum that under the existing programme it is predicted that we won't achieve eradication for another 70 years.
"We have to look at measures that will eradicate the disease sooner," he said.
He added that progress must be made in controlling TB in the wildlife population, this includes badger and deer.
"The Department must take responsibility for surveying and reducing the level of TB in the deer population.
"Without more effort in this area, we will never achieve eradication," said Mr McCabe.
The performance of the TB Forum was heavily criticised recently by the IFA, with Pat Farrell claiming that it "merely functioned as a vehicle for the Department of Agriculture" to impose their views.
Mandatory 30-day pre-movement test could cost €20m a year