IFA Animal Health chairman Bert Stewart said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and his officials continue to ignore the difficulties imposed on farmers in the current TB eradication programme.
He said that despite IFA putting a detailed submission to the Minister in September last year identifying necessary changes, his officials are intent on increasing the cost burden for farmers and have proposed further tightening of controls with no attempt to take on board the issues raised by IFA.
Bert Stewart said, “Understandably, some issues raised are requirements of EU regulations and the Minister must address these in the appropriate forum in order to find a resolution. Included in this category is the prohibition on purchasing animals into a restricted holding and the restriction of herds where lesions are found at slaughter. Accepting that achieving a resolution to these issues may take time, the IFA chairman said the Minister must ensure in the intervening period that his officials minimise the impact on farmers and, where necessary, provide supports”.
“However, there are a number of issues that are very much within the control of the Minister and his officials, which unfortunately have been further compounded by the fact the Minister signed into law the new TB order, S.I. No. 58 of 2015 on 17th February. These include the issue of payment for TB testing, ceiling amounts under the live valuation scheme and the medication of animals following notification to test.”
Bert Stewart said such is the impractical requirement in the S.I. that some farmers may be prohibited from treating their animals for months on end depending on the length of the TB restriction, while all other farmers will be forced to change or abandon good management practices to facilitate the testing of their animals and avoid draconian sanctions being imposed by the Department of Agriculture.
He said this issue must be addressed immediately and the new S.I. amended in order to allow farmers to continue to manage and care for their animals responsibly without the fear of sanctions being imposed.
In relation to the inadequate levels of income supplement currently available, Bert Stewart said IFA have identified a shortfall of up to €100/month in current rates and this issue is very much within the control of the Minister and his officials to resolve.
The enormous savings that have accrued within the TB eradication scheme budget and the increased EU funding provided for the programme must be used to reduce the cost burden for farmers.
Bert Stewart said IFA is calling on the Minister and his officials to engage in a meaningful way to reduce the cost and bureaucratic burden that continues to be imposed on farmers in the TB eradication programme. He said while the incidence of the disease continues to decline nationally it is of little consolation to the thousands of farmers who continue to experience disease breakdowns every year.