IFA Animal Health Chairman TJ Maher said the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue must come forward with a comprehensive package of supports for the BVD programme, which includes the full on-farm testing costs for the disease.
TJ Maher was commenting following the issuing of payments to farmers last week by the Department of Agriculture of just €2/sample for a maximum of 25 samples per farm based on the €2.25m allocation towards the scheme in Budget 2023.
He said BVD testing costs annually on farms extends to almost €10m. Over the course of the BVD programme, farmers have spent well over €120m since 2012 in testing and associated costs alone.
“It is now time for the Minister to recognise the enormous investment made by farmers in the programme to-date, both directly and indirectly, and come forward with proposals that remove the cost burden on farmers as the programme approaches the proof of freedom phase,” he said.
TJ Maher said the successful conclusion of the BVD programme from a farmers’ perspective will be critical in determining if there is a future role for the AHI model and the levels of support if any for tackling issues such as IBR.
He said farmers are rightly furious at the lack of Government support for the BVD programme to-date and the behaviour of AHI in recent weeks and months in relation to the approach to IBR.
“Both the Minister and AHI have a job of work to do to restore farmers confidence in the AHI model as a result and the starting point for this is a satisfactory conclusion to the on-farm testing costs for BVD,” he concluded.