IFA Animal Health Chairman TJ Maher said progress is being made on the TB programme, which will reduce the cost burden on farmers and expedite eradication of the disease.
However, agreement on financing has yet to be reached in the TB Finance Working Group.
One of the most substantive issues relates to the EU Animal Health Law requirement for pre/post-movement testing for all animals that have not been tested in the previous six months and moving from herds that are over six months since a TB test.
A compromise has been arrived at where the requirement for a pre/post-movement test will only apply to cows and male animals over 36 months of age that are over six months tested and moving from herds that are over six months since a TB test.
With 2.6million animals over six weeks of age moving through marts or from farm to farm each year, this compromise reduces the numbers of animals that may require a test to just over 170,000, based on the most recent analysis by the Department of Agriculture.
“The core issue to be resolved is who pays for these tests,” he said. “IFA has been clear that farmers will not pay for this additional testing requirement. Farmers pay for one herd test a year and at no shorter interval than 10 months. All other legislatively required testing must be paid for by the Department of Agriculture and this remains our position.”
The IFA has also called for a doubling of resources in the Wildlife Control Programme and more effective implementation of the programme on the ground. Progress has been made in this area over the past two years. A key tenet of the TB programme is the levels of support available to farmers impacted by controls and this has been a critical aspect of IFA policy for the duration of the TB Forum process.
Mr Maher said farmers who lose animals in a TB breakdown are now allowed to replace those animals, subject to the completion of a Risk Management Plan while also retaining their compensation entitlements.
Despite the facilitation to purchase in, there will be farmers unable to do so and who will be exposed to income loss on their farms. IFA has sought an increase in these rates to reflect the actual levels of income loss associated.