IFA Animal Health Chairman Bert Stewart has welcomed the commitment given by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to revisit the issue of increased supports for farmers in the BVD eradication programme. He said following a very productive meeting on the issue, the Minister is fully aware of the problems faced by farmers in the AHI-developed programme and most importantly its serious shortcomings.
Bert Stewart said AHI have attempted to replicate the Swiss BVD eradication programme, but have omitted to include the fundamental element of €250 support for farmers in order to ensure the prompt disposal of PIs.
He said the issue of PI retention is a major concern in the Irish programme and jeopardises its ability to achieve its objectives within the timeframes and costs for farmers. “From the outset, IFA sought meaningful supports for farmers in order to prevent this issue arising; however to-date they have not being forthcoming. In the absence of similar supports to those available in the Swiss programme, it is no surprise that farmers have been unable to incur the cost burden of disposing of these animals.”
He said IFA are seeking a payment of €250/calf for farmers who dispose of PI animals and the payment of this support retrospectively to those who disposed of PI animals in 2012 and 2013.
The IFA Chairman said AHI must row in behind IFA on this issue as the existing €100 support payment for farmers in 2014 is insufficient to alleviate the cost burden experienced by farmers. It fails to take account of the farmers who disposed of PIs in 2012 and 2013, with no financial support in the majority of instances.
Bert Stewart said the Minister and the AHI cannot turn their backs on the farmers who contributed most towards the success of the BVD programme in the past two years. “These are the farmers who complied with the best practice advice issued by AHI for the benefit of the programme, for the health of their own and their neighbours herds, yet AHI refuse to support their inclusion in any increased funding that may be made available.”
The IFA chairman said the Minister and the AHI have a moral obligation to ensure these farmers are included in any increased supports that may be provided by the Minister. He said coupled with this is the AHI proposal to restrict movements of in-calf animals out of farms that have identified PI animals which was not agreed by the implementation group and is a further attempt to increase the cost burden for some farmers in the scheme.