MINISTER for Agriculture Simon Coveney’s refusal to defer implementation of the TB regulations is ‘very disappointing,’ according to IFA Animal Health chairman Bert Stewart.
He said IFA have identified a number of key issues in the regulation that must be addressed and the most appropriate way to deal with these was the deferral of the regulation. The IFA chairman said the Minister has given a commitment to IFA that the medication of animals aspect of the regulations will not be implemented for a period of six months to allow full and meaningful consultation.
Bert Stewart said the Minister must now ensure genuine engagement and discussion takes place with his officials on all of the issues identified by IFA that require changing in both the TB regulations and in the Eradication programme in order to reduce the cost burden for farmers.
The IFA chairman said these include:
•Amending the TB regulations to accurately reflect the long-standing agreement in relation to liability to pay for TB testing for farmers, which is no more than one full herd test in a calendar year and at no shorter interval than 10 months.
• Removing the medication of animals reference which in effect prevents farmers from the standard treatment of their animals following test notification and making it a penal offence to do so, despite being in full compliance with Animal Remedies regulations and
• Increasing significantly the ceiling amounts in the live valuation scheme which are included in the regulation.
In relation to the TB eradication programme, Bert Stewart said IFA have identified and highlighted to the Minister and his officials a number of key elements that must be addressed in order to reduce the enormous cost burden of the disease controls for farmers, these include:
• Increased Income supplement, Depopulation grant and Hardship grant rates.
• Removal of the purchase in prohibition to restricted holdings.
• The relaxation of restrictions in herds where factory lesions are found.
• The extension in the application of Singleton criteria to facilitate the earlier derestriction of more herds.
• An immediate review of the effectiveness of the Contiguous herd policy.
• Changes to the Live valuation scheme in order to ensure farmers receive the full market value of all animals removed as reactors from their holding.
Bert Stewart said the continued reduction annually in TB incidence is welcome, but of little reward to the farmers who continue to incur the costs, stress and trauma that comes with TB breakdowns on their farms.
He said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and his officials must ensure this burden is reduced and kept to an absolute minimum by addressing comprehensively in the upcoming discussions the issues which have been identified by IFA.