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Aug 18, 2022 | Latest News, Press Releases | 0 comments

ICSA Animal Health and Welfare chair Hugh Farrell has called on Minister McConalogue and his department officials to explain how they are going to finance additional TB testing demands facing farmers. “At the TB Forum ICSA has always been insistent that farmers pay for one annual herd test – and one test only. However, ICSA, along with other farmer representatives, have been left exasperated by the department’s refusal to engage with us on how any additional mandatory testing would be financed,” he said.

“That a farmer is responsible for payment for one annual herd test has always been a fundamental principle of the TB Eradication Programme; Minister McConalogue must now step forward and come clean on whether this long-standing principle is to be thrown in the bin.”

Mr Farrell was responding to media coverage outlining proposed changes to TB testing requirements to include pre and post movement testing which the Department of Agriculture claim is obligatory as part of the new EU Animal Health Law.

“Once again, we are seeing farmers being burdened with additional testing demands the finer details of which have not been signed off by the TB Forum, most notably who will pay. We have seen this repeatedly whereby any financial considerations are relentlessly long fingered by the department. It could be in relation to income supplement, hardship grants, or unfair compensation caps, but the pattern remains the same – the department refusing to engage, or continually drag their heels when it comes to additional financial supports for farmers.”

“It is clear now that Minister McConalogue needs to have an honest dialogue with farmers. Does he expect them to pay for additional TB testing or not?”

Mr Farrell also slammed the proposal on the basis that it is likely to give rise to widespread confusion. “The department has driven on with a proposal that lacks all clarity on who is responsible for testing – buyer or seller – or in what circumstances. I have been contacted by farmers who misinterpreted these reports as twice-yearly testing for all herds, but this is not on the table.

Worse still is the fact that a farmer buying in a group of cattle has no certainty about what the status of these cattle is, and the farmer cannot rely on the information on the mart board. Currently, you can see when the animal(s) in the ring were tested, although this becomes less clear when a few animals go through in one lot. But you cannot tell when the herd – where the animals come from – was last tested.

Plus, all this has allegedly come from an EU Directive, yet the EU have decided to discontinue their contribution to our TB Eradication Programme from 2024 onwards. How is it that they can continue to call the shots but not contribute to the overall financing of the programme?

ICSA has tried to convey our frustration with this to the various sub-committees of the TB Forum but there is no willingness to listen to farmer concerns. It is now time for the Minister to intervene and deal with this ticking time bomb.”


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ICSA president Dermot Kelleher has said ICBF have gone too far with their changes to the beef breeding indexes regarding pedigree bulls. Commenting on the changes which came into effect this week Mr Kelleher said, “ICSA met with ICBF back in early November where we were reassured that no drastic changes would be made; this has turned out to be far from the case however. The changes are proving to have considerable ramifications for farmers participating in the SCEP scheme and indeed for the future of the suckler sector as a whole,” he said.

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