24th January, 2014
A delegation from the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association, along with the mart managers in Co Roscommon, has met with senior officials from the Roscommon Department of Agriculture office to challenge buying restrictions placed on TB-affected farms in the county.
The delegation, led by ICSA’s Roscommon chair Charles Clarke, told the Department officials that a recent crackdown on buying cattle imposed on farms which have been locked up due to TB is far too burdensome on beef farmers in particular, and must be made flexible enough to allow farmers to continue trading. The delegation also included ICSA Roscommon national executive members, ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch and mart managers Brendan Egan (Castlerea), Gerry Connellan (Elphin) and Maura Quigley (Roscommon).
Mr Clarke explains, “Up until recently, a farmer could apply to his local DVO for permission to purchase cattle while their herd is either restricted due to TB or suspected TB. This permission is extremely important for beef finishers who depend on being able to buy in cattle for their livelihood. As these farmers only ever sell cattle to meat plants, there is no question of spreading the disease to other farms. The problem is if there is a national policy to prevent these farmers from buying in cattle, the impact will be felt much on a much wider scale by suckler and store producers who will have fewer customers for their stock. The new regime insists that no cattle can be bought until the farmer has at least one clear test. This has the potential to put people effectively out of business during key periods when they need to be buying cattle, and the knock-on effect on their viability will be severe.”
“We need to see a common sense approach being applied to these situations. The new restrictions are apparently being pushed by the EU Commission on foot of a very old EU directive. There is no evidence whatsoever that these new restrictions will make any positive impact on the TB situation and it makes no sense to impose them.”
The Ardkeel-based farmer said the meeting was constructive but that the issue must be taken very seriously. “Farmers take TB eradication very seriously, but the scheme must be flexible enough to allow them to earn their livelihoods.”