IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell welcomed the contribution of the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to the TB Forum meeting today, and the interest shown by the Minister in attending the full meeting.
He said the Minister directed his officials to provide the Forum members with a draft TB strategy, and to initiate bi-lateral meetings with the farm organisations in particular as a matter of urgency, to develop an agreed approach in achieving the eradication of TB in the shortest feasible timeframe.
Minister of State Martin Heydon also attended the TB Forum today.
“This is an important first step, but the real work of agreeing a programme that reduces TB levels and the impact of controls on farms is only starting,” he said.
The IFA Chairman said the Department of Agriculture has also agreed to address the issue of the letters and blacklisting of farmers in these bi-lateral discussions.
IFA informed the Minister and the Forum members the letters and subsequent correspondence with farmers must be stopped immediately and a comprehensive programme to eradicate TB developed in agreement with farmers on the three key areas of Wildlife Control; on-farm investigation of disease outbreaks; and financial supports for farms under TB controls.
Pat Farrell said the objective has to be the eradication of TB in the shortest feasible timeframe, but this will only be achieved if there is buy-in from all parties.
“IFA will engage fully in the process set out today, but any attempts to steam roll measures or the new strategy without the agreement of farmers will not be acceptable. All aspects of the new strategy must be agreed and implemented in unison. This includes the key area of financial supports for farmers. While there is an urgency to move forward, it must be done in a considered and balanced way,” he said.