IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell has said the unacceptable increase in the number of empty samples reported in the BVD programme last year appears to be continuing in the 2018 programme and the impact on farmers must be addressed through a system developed by Animal Health Ireland (AHI) with tag suppliers and testing laboratories.
Pat Farrell said the number of empties recorded in 2017 was 23,705 compared to 13,915 in the previous year – an increase of almost 10,000 samples. To date in 2018, the number of empty samples is running at almost twice the level for the same period in 2017. This is imposing unnecessary management and cost burdens on farmers and must be addressed, he said.
Analysis of this issue, carried out by the Department of Agriculture, at the request of IFA, has identified that the number of empties reported are proportionate across all tag suppliers and testing laboratories.
The IFA Chairman said the increase in the number of empties can only be attributed to changes to the testing component of tags used on farms in 2017 and in some instances sample processing in laboratories. He said it is not acceptable that some laboratories charge farmers for opening these empty samples and, when postage and supplementary tag purchases are added in, each of these empty samples is costing farmers up to €10.
IFA is demanding the development of a mechanism between the testing laboratories and tag suppliers that would provide farmers with a tissue sampling tag in the shortest feasible timeframes and at the lowest costs possible to offset some of the on-farm difficulties this is causing. AHI must, as a matter of urgency, ensure this system is put in place in advance of the peak calving season which is fast approaching.
This must include:
- the discontinuation of the practise by laboratories of charging farmers the testing fees where samples are empty; and,
- the immediate provision of a sampling tag to farmers when a sample has been identified as empty.
Pat Farrell said the Department of Agriculture is the competent authority responsible for the approval of tags used on farms and are also involved in the designation of laboratories for BVD testing. They must investigate fully the factors contributing to the unacceptable increase in the number of empty samples over the past year and have it rectified.