The Chairman of Wicklow IFA Tom Short has strongly criticised the lack of progress by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney in rolling out a deer management programme surrounding TB outbreaks.
Tom Short said the Minister and his officials have the results of the survey carried out by his Department in Wicklow for almost a year now, which shows 16% of deer in the area to be infected with TB, yet has not made progress on a programme to protect the livelihoods of farmers in the area. He said the delays by the Minister and his officials on this critical issue are resulting in the problem worsening on the ground for farmers, with a larger area now chronically affected and unacceptable increases in TB levels recorded in neighbouring counties.
Tom Short said that while the Minister and his officials procrastinate on this issue, farmers’ livelihoods are being taken away on a daily basis. The Department of Agriculture implements a strict TB programme for cattle where the National APT is 1.78. There is evidence, for almost a year, of APT in deer of 160 – almost 100 times the level of cattle – with still no structures in place to address the issue. A subsequent study carried out by the Department of Agriculture shows TB levels of 24% in the deer population.
The Wicklow Chairman said the National Deer Management Forum is not fit for purpose to resolve the issues experienced by farmers and represents little more than a talking shop for those not experiencing the huge financial impact the uncontrolled deer population is having on farmers throughout the country.
Tom Short has called for the immediate roll-out of a deer management programme where deer are associated with TB outbreaks on farms, administered and overseen by the Veterinary section of the Department of Agriculture as the primary agency responsible for TB eradication in the country.
The IFA Chairman said farmers have run out of patience with the lip service on this critical issue by the Minister and the Department of Agriculture, and the disconnect with farmers’ issues in the National Deer Management forum.