ICSA Animal Health and Welfare chair Hugh Farrell has said it is high time that the Minister for Agriculture faces up to the reality that he needs to secure additional funding if we are serious about eradicating TB by 2030. “At the TB forum, the Department strategy has been built around going all out with more draconian measures in the belief that this can deliver success by 2030. Farm organisations are taking a constructive approach because TB has imposed so much pain on farms for several generations. But this cannot be done on the cheap, and if we want to gain a bit of forward momentum, now is the time to provide the support with a view to saving money in the long-term.”
“Unfortunately, the Department is only coming up with increasingly ridiculous ways of saving a few bob here and a few bob there, all at the expense of farmers. This is complimented by threats of increasing levies on farmers. When the TB Forum was initially set up, we were led to believe that funding would not be an obstacle if a good strategy could be agreed but now it looks like this is a major sticking point.
“The Minister must face up to the fact that the increase in agri-food exports also have consequences in terms of costs. Total agri-food exports in 2020 surpassed €14 billion which is a 60% increase on 2010 figures. It is plainly absurd to think that this increase, strongly related to a 50% increase in dairy cows, can be sustained without increased spending on TB.”
“We have become bogged down in various sub-committees where the Department is trying to impose more restrictions and more cost on farmers. For example, ICSA rejects plans to cap compensation on large herds because we believe that 100% compensation – no more, no less – is a fundamental principle. We also need to see progress on the Income Supplement side which is very far from being fit for purpose at a time when milk and beef prices are significantly higher.”
“The Minister must reflect on the fact that the Government saw fit to throw limitless funds at controlling the Covid pandemic. Even then, the outcome has been that total eradication is elusive. Infectious diseases cannot be tackled with penny pinching especially if we are to reach the target of 2030 eradication. If this were achieved, the Government would save a fortune in the long-term, but you have to invest to accumulate.”