IFA Animal Health Chairman Bert Stewart said the announcement by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to increase the levels of support available in the 2014 BVD eradication programme to €120 for all Pi calves removed from suckler herds and to provide €75 for second and subsequent dairy heifer calves disposed of, is a significant increase in the levels of funding previously provided and will contribute to the programme reaching its targets. The increased funding cannot be accompanied by unnecessary trade prohibitive measures or restrictions to farmers.
The IFA Chairman said the case for a higher payment of €250 per calf where 10% of the herd is identified as Pi remains. Given that the costs would be small, he again called on the Minister to review the issue. These higher payments should be available retrospectively to farmers who complied with best practice advice.
The IFA Chairman said it is incumbent on all stakeholders to ensure the BVD eradication programme achieves eradication of the disease within the stated timeframes in order for farmers to achieve a return on the significant investments being made in complying with the programme to-date. In this regard Bert Stewart said the early removal of Pi animals and the development of a lower cost monitoring option when three years of expensive testing have been completed are critical.
He said over 7,000 farmers will be eligible for lower level monitoring in 2015, with the majority who entered the programme in 2013 eligible from 2016. The challenge now for all concerned is to ensure the commitments given in relation to the testing requirements contained in the programme are honoured and farmers who complete their three years of testing can avail of significant savings to their testing costs.