IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell said IFA has consistently opposed the inclusion of additional pre-movement testing in the TB programme, and will continue to do so in the upcoming discussions with the Department next week.
This DRAFT strategy document which appeared in the media today is based on the interim report of the TB Forum, which was rejected by the IFA.
In particular, he said the proposal by the Minister to introduce a 30-day pre-movement test would severely distort the marketing of animals and place an extra cost burden on the programme, while doing little or nothing to reduce TB.
“We need to address the real causes of TB, not put another wheel under the TB testing gravy train,” he said.
“Following the debacle over the TB testing letters, IFA insisted on a new approach involving bi-laterals between the Department and farmers. The first of these meetings will take place on Tuesday and IFA will be setting out the changes we want to see in the TB programme which has developed into an industry at the expense of farmers,” he said.
Pat Farrell said the key areas identified by IFA that must be addressed to reduce the levels of TB and lower the cost burden on farms include:
- The withdrawal of the TB Herd Risk letters
- The discontinuation of the new herd categorisation approach that was included in the herd risk letters
- The implementation of an effective wildlife control programme
- Detailed and thorough on-farm investigations where TB breakdowns occur to identify the source of the disease and remove it
- The provision of fair financial supports to farmers whose farms are under TB controls.
Pat Farrell acknowledged the document includes some of the issues identified by IFA, including the implementation of a more effective wildlife control programme.
However, there are no details provided on how improved financial supports will be made available to farmers undergoing TB restrictions. This is a key area that must be addressed.
In the context of any controls that will form part of the TB programme going forward Pat Farrell said these must have a robust scientific basis for inclusion; make a meaningful contribution to eradicating TB; and be practical to implement at farm level.
With only 7.5% of TB breakdowns attributable to animal movements based on Department of Agriculture published statistics, this is a disproportionate and unnecessary proposal for inclusion in the programme.