IFA Animal Health Chairman Bert Stewart has called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and his officials to urgently engage on the comprehensive list of amendments submitted by IFA last year, which are necessary to the TB eradication programme in order to reduce the cost and bureaucracy associated with the disease for farmers.
Issues such as herd restrictions and prohibition on purchasing into restricted holdings are causing huge financial difficulties for farmers, do not contribute to disease eradication, and must be amended or removed from the programme.
In relation to income loss, Bert Stewart said the current rates do not reflect the actual income foregone; analysis of the National Farm Survey clearly show losses of €126/month where a dairy cow is removed as a TB reactor with qualifying farmers receiving only €25/month in compensation. This gross imbalance that exists for all reactor animals must be removed from the scheme.
In relation to the live valuation scheme, Bert Stewart said farmers are not being afforded the opportunity to receive the true market value of their animals. The scheme is not delivering on its objectives for farmers as guideline prices are failing to reflect the actual market value and the continued erosion of the independence of valuers by the Department of Agriculture. The live valuation scheme must ensure the full market value of all TB reactor animals is provided for as if being offered for sale on the open market.
Bert Stewart said the Department of Agriculture has accrued enormous savings in the ERAD budget due to the lower levels of TB and this money must be utilised to ensure the cost burden of losing animals as TB reactors and the income loss that accrues is alleviated.
The IFA Chairman said farmers cannot be expected to continue with unnecessary and avoidable costs and losses imposed by the TB eradication programme and has called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to proactively engage on these issues.