31 OCTOBER 2019
ICSA Animal Health & Welfare chair Hugh Farrell has slammed a Department of Agriculture report that suggests TB compensation levels are set too high. “This report will make no sense to any farmer who has endured a TB outbreak. It is patently wrong to suggest the current levels of TB compensation amounts to more than the value of the animal. It is simply an incorrect calculation that does not take into consideration the overall financial impact of a TB breakdown,” he said.
The report was compiled by IGEES, is titled Spending Review 2019. Animal Health: TB Eradication and has been published on www.gov.ie under Spending Review 2019.
Commenting further Mr Farrell said, “Far from being overcompensated, farmers are short changed when it comes to TB compensation. In 2018 the contribution made by farmers to the TB Eradication Programme was €35.2m. This comprises an estimated €28m in bTB testing paid directly to private veterinary practitioners and €7m in disease levies. This 2018 figure of €35.2m shows a farmer contribution increase of 14.6% or €4.46m since 2012, whereas the total for On Farm Market Valuation (OVFM) and other supports such as the Hardship Grant and Income Supplement has increased by just 8% or €1.4m during that time. In short, farmers have paid and continue to pay more than their fair share.”
“In addition to their €35 million financial contribution, farmers also contribute a massive amount in terms of unpaid labour. ICSA have assessed the labour costs for farmers incurred in testing cattle to be in the order of €12.5 million. If account is taken of book work and other TB associated tasks the figure is even higher, making their real economic contribution closer to €50m annually.”
“Meanwhile, as well as the €25m farmers paid to veterinary practitioners in 2018, DAFM staffing costs are estimated at €28m, all while farmer labour is valued at zero. The point is that no TB strategy will be acceptable or workable unless compensation is seen to be fair. And if cost cutting is required, it needs to come from elsewhere.”
ICSA would take exception with the notion that compensation levels have to “counteract the moral hazard of potentially encouraging excessive risk taking behaviour.” No farmer wants to get TB and no farmer believes they could ever possibly be better off following a TB outbreak. Not only is it a struggle to get the true value of your lost animals but the limitations imposed on your ability to trade, to buy and sell when you normally would, to try to run your enterprise with limited cashflow all make this a preposterous allegation.”
The TB Forum must be reconvened to examine these conclusions. It is unfortunate that any credence was given to the notion that less than 100% compensation can be considered the optimum strategy for TB eradication and ICSA will be opposing this at every level.”