1 OCTOBER 2019
ICSA Animal Health & Welfare chairman Hugh Farrell has said that the Department must proceed with a TB strategy based on partnership with farmers which deals with the key issues identified by farmer representatives at the TB Forum. Addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr Farrell said, “We need to face up to the role of wild deer in TB outbreaks. I cannot understand the reluctance of the Department on this issue. We also have to resolve compensation issues and accept that spending money now is better than continuing to spend money indefinitely. A TB strategy cannot work unless it operates on the basis that no individual farmer can be expected to carry an unfair burden and that farmers need 100% compensation.”
“ICSA wants the Department to commission research into the level of TB in deer and then implement a programme of culling. The reality is that we were going nowhere with TB until we did the same thing with badgers. We know that testing has shown up to 16% TB infection in deer in Wicklow. Even in the rest of the country, limited testing has suggested 4% TB in deer. This is enough to be extremely concerned, and is at least as high as the bovine levels. It therefore makes no sense to turn a blind eye.”
“We also put the case to the committee that outstanding compensation issues need to be dealt with. ICSA wants to see the Hardship Grant paid to all, regardless of off-farm income. We want to see Income Supplement payments to begin on the day that the reactors are detected and it must be paid on a per-day basis rather than a full month basis. The 10% rule for Income Supplement needs to be discarded. Most importantly, we want to see the independent valuers be left to do their job. The Department should not be second guessing the experts.”
“ICSA believes that money spent on sending Department officials to marts to compile prices is a waste when such data is readily available on a desk top exercise. This expenditure would be better spent on rectifying penny-pinching measures which cost individual farmers dearly.”
“ICSA believes that the TB Forum needs to reconvene to examine the results of the independent costs benefit analysis and the review of the On Farm Market Valuation.
“ICSA believes that unless all these issues are dealt with, there is little chance of eradicating TB by 2030. The TB Forum and the Department should operate on the basis that the views of those most affected – farmers – are given equal respect. Partnership is the way forward to eradicate TB, but it must be a partnership of equals.”