IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell has said formalising the vaccination of badgers as a part of the TB eradication programme in the seven areas where vaccination trials were taking place over the past number of years is the logical next step.
The IFA Chairman said the Wildlife Control Programme has been the key driver in reducing the levels of TB in cattle and any fundamental changes to this must, at a minimum, be equally as effective.
Pat Farrell said early indications from the seven trial areas are positive but farmers will have to be convinced and the Department of Agriculture must prove this effectiveness can be replicated on a national scale and in higher density populations of badgers before the vaccination programme moves outside these areas.
In the context of the strategy for the next phase of the TB eradication programme Pat Farrell said the Minister and his officials must recognise the enormous financial burden TB controls impose on farmers. These must be minimised and, where controls are deemed necessary to achieve eradication, farmers must be fully compensated for the disruption and costs imposed on their business.
Pat Farrell said the TB eradication programme is an enormous cost and burden for all farmers throughout the country. Eradication of the disease in the shortest feasible timeframe must be the objective but this will not be done cheaply and cannot be just about tightening controls on farmers. He said other contributing factors such as deer and disturbance of wildlife from major infrastructural works and deforestation must also be addressed.
Pat Farrell said IFA will engage proactively in moving the programme forward with the Minister and his officials but he said the views and issues raised by farmers in developing the next steps must be recognised and addressed.