While welcoming the increase in financial supports for farmers in the BVD eradication programme, IFA Animal Health Chairman Bert Stewart said it is disappointing the Minister for Agriculture and his Department did not support farmers from the outset of the Programme at these levels.
He said, “Farmers who supported the programme from the start and took the enormous financial hit in disposing of their calves for little or no compensation feel rightly aggrieved at the decision not to retrospectively provide similar levels of support payment to them”.
Bert Stewart said it will not go unnoticed with farmers that the Minister and his Department have taken the easy and cheaper option of only increasing payments when the numbers of PIs being identified have reduced to very low levels having left individual farmers carry an enormous cost burden in the earlier stages of the programme. He said the Minister, his Department and AHI cannot turn their backs on the farmers who have incurred these losses.
“In relation to the shorter window provided to claim the higher levels of compensation the retest facility has been a critical component of the Programme to reduce the losses for farmers and effectively ruling out this option in order to avail of the higher levels of payment is a fundamental change with over 10% of retested animals testing negative.”
The IFA Chairman said the automatic restriction of herds must be balanced with immediate derestriction when the PI animals are disposed of and the Ministers decision to pay vets to carry out the retest, which was cost effectively and accurately completed by farmers in the programme up until now, must provide testing in a timely manner to avoid any unnecessary disruption to trade.
Bert Stewart said the herd investigation funded by the Department of Agriculture from the Rural Development fund can be of enormous benefit both to individual farmers and for the purposes of informing the programme going forward if effectively implemented. However, in order for the herd investigations to provide these benefits significant improvements are required to the current model. These include a more timely and more detailed investigation in order to provide answers for farmers as to the source of the disease outbreak, to-date this has not being happening on a regular enough basis.
Bert Stewart said BVD eradication is costing farmers up to €9m annually and the benefits will only start to accrue when the this enormous cost is removed, he said IFA have sought direct support for all farmers towards this cost and it is very disappointing the Minister did not see fit to recognise this farmer investment in a meaningful way.
Dairy support payments
€150 if the female dairy and dairy cross calves are removed within 21 days (3 weeks) of the first positive or inconclusive test.
€35 if the female dairy and dairy cross calves are removed between day 22 & 35 (the 4th and 5th week) of the first positive or inconclusive test.
It is also proposed to offer €30 towards the disposal of the dairy bull PI through the abattoir or knackery within 21 days of the first positive or inconclusive test.
Beef support payments
€185 if the calf is removed within 21 days (3 weeks) of the first positive or inconclusive test.
€60 if the calf is removed between day 22 & 35 (4th and 5th week) of the first positive or inconclusive test.
The Department will be embarking on a system of automatic restrictions that will apply 5 weeks following the date of the original positive or inconclusive test. Automatic de-restriction will follow removal of the PI. An automatic system is also being put in place for the bio-security notification of contiguous herds where necessary.
This will be done through blood sampling, rather than repeat tissue tagging. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will fund a system of blood sampling (undertaken by a Private Veterinary Practitioner (PVP) who will take bloods from the calf and the dam), providing additional funding to pay for the PVP visit, sampling and the test.
Mandatory Herd Investigations under the TASAH
A trained PVP will conduct a mandatory farm herd investigation once a PI is disclosed. The Department will work with Animal Health Ireland to expedite herd investigations and will aim to have these completed within 3 months of the first positive test result. In addition, the Department will work with ICBF on providing a system of sharing relevant information with veterinary practitioners investigating infected herds.