Reacting to the announcement by the Minister for Agriculture making it compulsory to have the approx. 3,000 pre-2013 born animals tested for BVD, IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell said it’s an important step in establishing a BVD-free status for the national herd.
He said these animals are primarily male animals, bulls, but also includes a small number of female animals that did not have a calf since 2013.
However, Pat Farrell said the substantive issue for the BVD programme is to now determine what the end game is. “Farmers have made enormous investments in the programme since 2013, with some farmers involved since 2012. They are rightly growing extremely frustrated at the lack of clear timeframes for the ending of on-farm tissue tag testing,” he said.
The IFA Chairman said while significant progress has been made in reducing the numbers of PIs and the number of infected herds, from 13,877 in 9,485 herds in 2013 to just 478 in 276 herds to-date in 2020, BVD freedom has not yet been achieved.
Farmers are rightly asking how much longer will the expense of tissue tag testing continue.
Pat Farrell said the issue is further complicated by the unrealistic target set in the new EU Animal Health Law for recognised BVD-free status, where 18 months of testing with no PIs identified is required.
IFA has asked AHI to provide a detailed analysis of the options available to progress the programme, including the short and longer-term costs and benefits of these options.
Pat Farrell said the programme is now at a critical point in terms of deciding which direction to follow and it is vital all of the costs and benefits of the various options are presented to allow farmers make an informed decision on the future programme direction. It should not be taken for granted that farmers will continue indefinitely tissue tag testing all calves born, with no end date in sight.