Farm Ireland
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Monday 21 January 2019

Testing programme extended in Monaghan to address major TB outbreak

Farmers have hit out at comments by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying he is trying to reduce red meat in his diet for environmental and health reasons. Stock photo
Farmers have hit out at comments by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying he is trying to reduce red meat in his diet for environmental and health reasons. Stock photo
Researchers are undertaking projects to breed TB resistance into dairy and beef herds (Anthony Devlin/PA)
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Farmers in Monaghan have been informed that the TB testing programme has been extended due to the high incidence of bovine TB in the county.

The Department told farmers the contiguous (neighbourhood) testing programme has been extended, in TB black spot areas, to all herds which are in the vicinity if any herds experiencing a current TB breakdown.

Department of Agriculture figures show that the incidence rate, per herd, Monaghan had a TB incidence rate of 4.72pc.  Over a quarter of the 4,228 herds in the county were tested and the figures show that  60 herds were restricted since January 2018, with the total number of herds restricted in Monaghan at 160 in April.

The national average for the first quarter of 2018 was 2.59pc, with Limerick having a TB herd incidence rate of 0.59pc.

In 2015, Monaghan had a TB herd incidence rate of 3.10pc – lower than the national average of 3.37pc at the time.

Frank Brady of Monaghan IFA recently said that farmers in the county were "living in fear" as a result of the widespread restrictions and herd depopulations.

"An improved hardship fund has to be provided for any farmer losing his livelihood," Mr Brady said. "I fear there is going to be a lot more depopulations because the spread is out of control - it is a very lonely place for herd owners to be.

"The Department officials are doing their best but they are going to have to tackle the source and I believe that badgers and deer are going to have to be looked at to see what can be done," he added.

"For a county that has gone from being one of the lowest (for TB infection) to the worst in two years, there has to be a reason and we have to get serious about the source of the infection - farmers' livelihoods are at stake and the cause has to be tackled," Mr Brady said.

A previous communication by the Department with farmers stated that the rise in the TB incidence in Monaghan as ‘multi-factorial’ and would require a range of measures to address the issue.

"The Department has devised a tailored programme for Monaghan following consultation with staff in the local office and stakeholders in the area. This represents a coordinated, rigorous plan to get on top of the TB problems in Monaghan," the Department maintained.

The Department is also set to launch an improved communications campaign involving leaflets, videos on YouTube, and frequently asked questions, FAQs, on the website, to address some of the common concerns farmers have about the TB eradication scheme, the TB tests, and what farmers can do to reduce the risk of TB to their cattle through their own choices.

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