Speaking following today’s meeting of National Council, IFA President Tim Cullinan said the Department of Agriculture’s attempt to justify the TB Risk letters is typical of the disconnect between officials and farmers on the ground in relation to the devastation TB is causing on our farms.
“It’s also further proof of the failure of the TB Forum process that was overloaded with Department officials and academics with no investment in the programme,” he said.
The Department of Agriculture omitted to mention that the last meeting of the TB Forum was in June 2019, over 15 months ago. The decision to unilaterally issue these damaging letters to farmers took place without any further consultation as recommended in the Interim Report.
A recently scheduled TB Forum meeting was cancelled and yet the following week the Department of Agriculture issued these letters.
Tim Cullinan said these letters must be withdrawn and meaningful discussions entered into with farmers to agree a path towards eradication of the disease.
Pat Farrell IFA Animal Health chairman said farmers want to see meaningful action that addresses TB and reduce the cost burden on farmers, he said IFA have set out detailed proposals throughout the Forum process to achieve these objectives. These include an effective wildlife control programme; detailed and thorough on farm investigation of breakdowns and removal of all sources of infection; and a fair financial support package for farmers impacted by controls.
He said the Department of Agriculture letters that contain inaccurate information and contradictory advice will not eradicate TB but devalue animals on our farms and raise market access concerns for farmers.
The IFA Chairman said this approach has left farmers questioning the credibility of the programme and the ability of the Department to implement an effective programme. “Farmers want to see meaningful and credible action from the Department, not more bureaucracy and blacklisting of farmers who through no fault of their own experience TB outbreaks,” he said.