IFA Animal Health Chairman TJ Maher has called on Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to confirm his intention to honour the long-standing agreement on TB testing by announcing his intention to cover the 30 Day Pre/Post Movement TB Test, which is required under the EU Animal Health Law.
“Failure to clarify the position in relation to payment for this testing requirement would undermine all the work to-date in the TB Financial Working Group, and would effectively tear up an agreement reached for the first time in the 1990s, without any discussion in the TB Programme.”
He said the agreement reached in the 1990s and which has never been on the table for discussion in this process is that farmers will pay for one herd test a year, at no shorter interval than 10 months, with the Department of Agriculture liable for payment for all other legislatively required TB tests on farms.
This new test is a legislatively required test through the new EU Animal Health Law and therefore is covered by the existing agreement.
TJ Maher said huge progress has been achieved in minimising the impact of this test in the trading of animals with effectively only cows moving to herds for further breeding and male animals over 36 months moved to farms for breeding likely to require either a pre or post movement test when these animals are over six months tested and from herds over six months since their last TB test.
“IFA came to the TB Forum table with a genuine aspiration to make positive progress in reducing the TB levels, while also reducing the burden of controls on farmers. We have taken a fair and reasonable approach to all discussions and difficult decisions have been made along the way. Farmers have taken on board additional controls on their farms; tightened controls around higher risk practices; and have committed to increased funding towards improved financial support schemes. We want to drive forward with reducing the levels of TB which will require more difficult decisions that will impact directly on our farms,” he said.
However, if the Minister and his Department seek to ignore this long-standing agreement on payment for TB testing, then farmers cannot be expected to continue in good faith on this journey.
“While progress was being made in discussions on the TB Programme and implementation of the EU AHL within the new TB Forum structure, the issue of payment for this testing requirement has stalled any further progress from being possible”.
TJ Maher said this is not a new line of expenditure from the Department that is been sought. Farmers are just asking the Minister to confirm he will be paying for this test in order to ensure the positive and proactive engagement that has taken place between farmers and his officials continue as we collectively strive to reduce TB levels.