IFA Animal Health Project team Chairman John Waters said it is timely and appropriate to further relax the Brucellosis testing controls for 2013.
The IFA Chairman said farmers have made significant investment in achieving Brucellosis free status and the costs and trade restrictions previously associated with the disease must continue to be phased out.
In this regard, IFA is seeking
o An extension from 18 to 24 months for heifers requiring a pre-movement brucellosis test. This would align all brucellosis testing to only animals over 24 months of age and remove over 150,000 heifers from the pre-movement test requirement - worth €1.7m annually.
o A reduction in the number of suckler herds requiring an annual brucellosis blood test to 20% from the current 50% worth up to €1m annually.
The combined financial benefits to farmers with these changes, if implemented by the Minister, are €2.7m in direct savings annually.
The progress being made in eradicating the disease from Northern Ireland is welcome and as each year passes significantly reduces the risk to farmers in the South. However, until eradication is achieved, farmers in the South cannot avail of the full benefits of Brucellosis free status. John Waters said it is vital the authorities in Northern Ireland achieve eradication and Brucellosis free status at the earliest opportunity.