IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell said the work of TB Forum Implementation group is critical to the successful development of the objectives in the TB strategy.
He said this group, as announced by the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, will consist of Department of Agriculture staff and farmer representatives under an independent chairman to discuss and agree the most appropriate approach to implementing the objectives of the TB strategy.
He said this is the most important piece of the jigsaw in developing and rolling out the new TB strategy as this is where science and practical implementation will be aligned to minimise the impact on farmer livelihoods and the management of their farms.
“For far too long, we have had a top-down approach from the Department of Agriculture in the TB programme with little or no regard for the impact of their controls on farm families or their livelihoods. The new strategy must deliver on its commitments in this regard and ensure the views of farmers, who are the only stakeholder that will be impacted by these decisions, are taken on board,” he said.
He said the Minister for Agriculture has given clear commitments that this will no longer be the approach and farmers will be provided with respectful and meaningful engagement in all aspects of the TB programme.
However, Pat Farrell said the critical issue is the development of a sustainable funding model. ”In developing any programme or business plan, the first issue to be addressed is always the funding. This is no different for the TB programme,” he said.
“It’s a fundamental requirement that this issue is resolved. It’s not credible to seek to finalise a programme without sight of the resources that will be available to it,” he said.
The IFA Chairman has called for the Financial Technical Working Group to be convened in the first instance and the issues of funding of the programme and financial supports to be addressed.
He said the ‘Cost Benefit Analysis’ review must surely be concluded at this stage. This process commenced a year ago. IFA was informed in November the first draft was nearing completion, but farmer members of the TB Forum have not received any details.
Pat Farrell said it is putting the cart before the horse if the Department push ahead with imposing a new programme on farmers without any agreement on the key financial issues.
He called on the Minister to ensure his officials implement the terms and the sentiment of the new TB Strategy.