IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell says the Department of Agriculture changes to the TB programme which allow farmers with COVID19 concerns to defer tests without sanction, is an important first step in recognising the challenges faced by farmers. However, he said this will need to be kept under review and amended as the situation evolves.
He said farmers have the additional responsibility of protecting the health and welfare of their animals, which requires 24/7 attention.
“The Department of Agriculture must continue to take a practical view when implementing the TB Eradication programme. The focus should be on the key trade requirements in order to reduce risks to farmers, their families, farm workers and veterinary practitioners,” he said.
IFA has made detailed proposals to the Department, which include issues such as the deferment of tests and the removal of the purchase-in prohibition.
“Access to important medicines and treatments are also key requirements. In this regard the EU Commission confirmation of priority status for Veterinary Medicines is important and should help with continuity of supply of products,” he said.
In relation to the BVD programme, Pat Farrell said critically, we are passed the peak of testing which has reduced the pressures on labs. However, we must also be conscious of minimising the impact on farmers if delays are to arise with testing in the future.
Farmers should continue to take samples and submit them for testing in a timely manner. Any farmers having difficulties in submitting samples can contact their local IFA officers who will provide assistance.
He said the Department of Agriculture must be sympathetic given the unique circumstances and fully utilise the Early Warning System in the provision of support in these cases. IFA officers have a proven track record in assisting farmers in these situations and this must be respected and fully utilised by all Department of Agriculture offices.