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IFA Animal Health Chairman, Pat Farrell said the TB Forum established by the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has failed to deliver on the key objective of addressing stakeholder issues.

He said the Forum, under the chairmanship of Michael Cronin, has merely functioned as a vehicle  for the Department of Agriculture to impose their views, while continuing to ignore the voice of farmers, who are the single largest contributor to TB eradication.

Pat Farrell said farmer costs in the programme have risen by 15% since 2012, while the costs of other contributors have reduced.

Direct farmer contributions increased by €4.513m from €30.641m to €35.154m, DAFM contributions reduced by €289,000 from €45.825m to €45.536m and the EU Co-financing reduced by €1.337m from €11.085m to €9.748m.

The funding shift between 2012 and 2018 represents an increase of 15% for farmers, a reduction of 1% for the national exchequer and a reduction of 12% by the EU.

Despite the unacceptable cost increases for farmers in the TB programme, the TB Forum have now issued a report to the Minister for Agriculture that further increases the burden of controls on farmers, while refusing to address the shortcomings in the compensation schemes.

Pat Farrell said one of the recommendations contained in the report to the Minister tightens controls and increases obligations on farms that are not currently restricted with TB but have had difficulties on their farms previously with the disease.

He said, “These farms have only recently been derestricted and are attempting to return to normal farming practices having endured the enormous burden of restrictions and animal losses. The Forum are now proposing these farms implement TB risk management plans in consultation with their vet, which will be at an additional cost. These farms will also be compelled to carry out 30-day pre-movement testing on all animals offered for sale other than slaughter, significantly diminishing the viability of market access for these herds. It is estimated by the Department of Agriculture that up to 500 herds will be immediately impacted by this measure with current restricted herds added to the protocol as they become derestricted if categorised as chronic herds, effectively extending the impact of the controls on those farms.”

In addition, Pat Farrell said the Department of Agriculture proposal undermines the long-established agreement with government in relation to liability to pay for tests. He said farmers are only liable to pay for one TB test a year and at no shorter interval than 10 months with all additional testing required in the TB programme paid for by the Department of Agriculture. Under this proposal the Department of Agriculture will only pay for one pre-movement test per quarter exposing farmers to very costly pre-movement testing costs if they need to sell animals at different intervals.

Pat Farrell said, “IFA have outrightly rejected this proposal, and the Minister must honour the existing agreement in relation to payment for tests”.

Given the enormous costs and losses imposed on farmers in the TB programme, IFA made detailed submissions on necessary changes to the programme including to the compensation schemes which are a fundamental part of the programme to offset the burden on farmers. Progress was achieved on issues such as wildlife and information services for affected farmers, but the fundamental issue of compensation was not addressed.

The representatives of the Minister for Agriculture at the Forum have stated they will not support any increases to compensation rates for farmers. This has frustrated the work of the Forum and prevented any meaningful progress.

Pat Farrell said this approach clearly shows the lack of appreciation and understanding from the Minister’s officials of the impact that controls are imposing on farmers and their families.

He called on the Minister for Agriculture to immediately clarify his position on this critical issue for farmers.

He said the Minister must confirm to farmers if the views expressed by his officials at the TB Forum are consistent with his views and if not resolve the issue as a matter of urgency.

Pat Farrell concluded, “The TB burden has gone on for too long and eradication must be the objective, but this cannot be attained by the usual Department of Agriculture simplistic approach of just tightening controls on farmers and increasing the cost burden while ignoring the stress, trauma and economic impact these controls have on farmers and their families”.

 

IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell has called on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to stand firm on the outright rejection of the proposal in the new EU Animal Health Law Delegated Act to impose 30-day pre-movement testing for TB on all herds that are more than six months tested.

He said the only beneficiaries of this proposal will be vets and factories at the expense of farmers.

The IFA Chairman said this proposal is not scientifically based, will be a major impediment to the competitive marketing of animals; and could cost the Irish TB programme up to €20m a year.

Irish farmers contribute more than any other farmers throughout the EU directly to their TB programme and will not accept this additional cost burden and anti-competitive measure imposed on them that will not contribute to eradication of the disease.

The IFA Chairman said our newly elected MEPs also have a critical role to play in protecting Irish farmers from this unscientific, market distorting and anti-competitive proposal.

In the Delegated Act currently open for public consultation, the EU is proposing a 30-day pre-movement test for all animals from herds that are over six months tested, targeting the lowest TB risk herds in the country.

Pat Farrell said the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and our MEPs cannot allow the EU to impose this anti-competitive market distorting expense on Irish farmers who already incur a disproportionate cost burden in the TB programme in comparison to all other farmers throughout the EU

He said this measure would have a huge distortion to the sales and marketing of cattle in this country and would impact very negatively on the functioning of our vital live export trade.

Pat Farrell also pointed out this requirement will impact severely on marts and throughput in mart sales as the additional costs and inconvenience will drive more farmers directly to factories, removing vital competition to the benefit of factories.

The IFA Chairman said failure to have this issue addressed by our Minister for Agriculture and our MEPs is not an option.  Only recently, our MEPs made strong commitments of support to farmers in return for their vote. Farmers will measure these commitments on how this issue is resolved.

IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell said the TB Forum established by the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has failed to deliver on the key objective of involving stakeholders.

He said the Forum, under the chairmanship of Michael Cronin, has merely functioned as a vehicle

for the Department of Agriculture to impose their views, while continuing to ignore the voice of farmers, who are the single largest contributor to TB eradication.

Pat Farrell said farmer costs in the programme have risen by 15% since 2012, while the costs of other contributors have reduced.

Direct farmer contributions increased by €4.513m from €30.641m to €35.154m, DAFM contributions reduced by €289,000 from €45.825m to €45.536m and the EU Co-financing reduced by €1.337m from €11.085m to €9.748m.

The funding shift between 2012 and 2018 represents an increase of 15% for farmers, a reduction of 1% for the national exchequer and a reduction of 12% by the EU.

The IFA Chairman said against this background and the enormous costs and losses imposed on farmers in the TB programme, IFA made detailed submissions on necessary changes to the Live Valuation Scheme, Income Supplement Scheme, Depopulation Grant Scheme and the Hardship Grant to offset the burden on farmers.

However, the representatives of the Minister for Agriculture at the Forum have stated they will not support any increases to compensation rates for farmers. This has frustrated the work of the Forum and prevented any meaningful progress.

Pat Farrell said this approach clearly shows the lack of appreciation and understanding from the Minister’s officials of the impact that controls are imposing on farmers and their families.

He called on the Minister for Agriculture to immediately clarify his position on this critical issue for farmers.

He said the Minister must confirm to farmers if the views expressed by his officials at the TB Forum are consistent with his views and if not resolve the issue as a matter of urgency.

Pat Farrell said the TB burden has gone on for too long and eradication must be the objective, but this cannot be attained by the usual Department of Agriculture simplistic approach of just tightening controls on farmers and increasing the cost burden while ignoring the stress, trauma and economic impact these controls have on farmers and their families.

IFA National Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell said the inaction by the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed in addressing the issues around the large animal veterinary service in the country, which IFA has raised since 2017, is now exposing some farmers to call out fees of up to €500.

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IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell has called on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and his officials to strongly reject the proposal to impose a 30-day pre-movement TB test on animals in the Delegated Acts under the New EU Animal Health Law.

The IFA Chairman said the imposition of this control on animal movements would impact severely on the normal trade for cattle and add enormous unnecessary costs to the TB programme.

Pat Farrell said farmers are already at breaking point with the restrictions imposed on them by the Department of Agriculture in the TB programme and the suggestion that this burden could be increased for all farmers is unacceptable.

The IFA Chairman said proposals in the latest draft of the Delegated Act requires all herds that are over six months since a TB test to have a 30-day pre-movement test in order to be eligible for movement.

This measure is not scientifically based, will not contribute to eradication of the disease and will add an enormous cost to the TB programme which farmers will not accept.

Pat Farrell said Minister Creed and his officials cannot under any circumstances allow this movement restriction to be adopted in the Delegated Act currently reaching conclusion in the Commission.


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