ICSA COMMITTED TO OPPOSING THE DISPLAY OF HERD TB HISTORY IN MARTS

1 MARCH 2019

ICSA Animal Health & Welfare chair Hugh Farrell has said he is confident that a DAFM proposal to display herd histories on mart boards has been taken off the table for the foreseeable future as a result of strong opposition from ICSA and other farm organisations at the TB Forum. “As part of the TB Forum ICSA are delivering for drystock farmers on this issue, we need to ensure now that the measure is not introduced by the back door,” he said.

Mr Farrell said that the introduction of herd categorisation or risk based trading at this time would have a devastating impact. He said, “There are simply no mechanisms that could compensate for the devaluation in herds that this would bring about. This information, in a public forum, would wreak havoc on the market and result in many farms going out of business. ICSA will not stand by and allow this to happen when there is scope within the Department to further use this sensitive information in-house when individual cases are identified”

Mr Farrell said that while the TB Forum has its merits, department officials are very focused on pushing through their own demands while resisting demands from farming organisations. “The desire is there from both sides to speed up the eradication process but farmers concerns over adequate disease policy measures and compensation levels will need to be addressed for things to progress.”

He said, “In particular we need to see more commitment from DAFM officials to tackle the deer situation. It is a stated objective of the Department to eliminate TB but this cannot be achieved unless we know exactly what is going on with TB in deer and what can be done to eliminate the risk of transmission to cattle.”

This is why ICSA has been calling for a comprehensive research programme into the link between TB in deer and in cattle. “There must be a research programme and there must be full openness and transparency around the results. The Department mantra that there is no evidence of a link between the ever expanding deer population and the spread of TB rings very hollow when they haven’t done the necessary studies. It is incredulous that despite repeated calls from ICSA, officials from the department’s wildlife section have not sat on the Forum.”

“Likewise, on the badger front, we do not have sufficient trust in the vaccination programme. We have seen big breakdowns in areas where vaccination has been rolled out so it is only right that we question the methodology and effectiveness of the vaccine before any further demands can be placed on farmers. This will require more testing of badgers, including testing prior to vaccination and testing of all culled badgers.”

On the financial side, reactor compensation levels remain a contentious issue, particularly for sucklers cows where the loss of production value is not taken into consideration.  ICSA has been arguing that calves under four months should be considered a unit with their mother if the mother has tested positive for TB. This calf should be removed from the farm with their mother as a disease prevention measure and a valuation on the unit as a whole should be made.”

Again, as a disease prevention measure, ICSA is calling for the urgent establishment of a closed calf to beef units to accommodate calves from reactor herds. “We need to see this established to reduce the potential for these calves to further spread the disease as they are dispersed around the country.”

 Neither do the overall costings of the programme adequately reflect the true cost of the programme to farmers. “These issues have yet to be resolved. The danger is that the Forum will be shut down once the Department have got what they want out of the process while these and other issues are put on the long finger.”

ENDS