23rd October, 2012
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association says that dealing with the wildlife issue head-on will provide the best and quickest return on the money spent on eradicating bovine TB, following a meeting with Department of Agriculture officials during which proposed cuts to the existing TB eradication scheme were outlined.
ICSA Rural Development chairman John Barron said, “ICSA is very willing to engage with the Department on worthwhile ways to save money on the scheme. It’s hugely important to strive to rid the country of this disease and I have always felt that there was a certain amount of wastage inherent in the scheme, so I’m happy to see efforts being made to use the limited resources as efficiently as possible.”
“However, I have serious concerns with a number of the proposed money-saving measures outlined at the meeting. First of all, the proposal to abolish independent valuations of infected cattle in cases where there is only one reactor in the herd is unacceptable. Independent valuation of all reactors is a core principle of the TB eradication scheme which farmers fought hard to secure. It simply cannot be eroded in any way and ICSA will fight against any such proposal.”
“I also have a serious problem with the idea that farmers would face a new, additional charge of €22.50 per head for the collection of reactors, which the Department says is equivalent to half the cost to them of the transport of the animals. The fact that the Department currently pays €45 per head is ludicrous. If they want to save money on the transport costs, they should first negotiate a far better deal with the hauliers, before even contemplating burdening farmers with a substantial new charge, which would be unfair and disproportionate to say the least.”
“I would also call into question whether some of these measures are simply a way of getting farmers to shoulder the cost of the likes of the four-month testing arrangement in the case of contiguous breakdowns. It seems to me that the heat is being turned up on agriculture since the Government failed so miserably to make any meaningful savings in the area of public sector allowances and ICSA will not stand by and let that continue.”
Mr. Barron concluded, “I would reiterate that the most important point is to address the wildlife issue head-on. That’s the best way to fully eradicate the disease from this country and if that was achieved, then the cost-cutting problem would be completely solved. I would urge the Minister and his officials to seriously consider how best to spend the money allocated to TB eradication without increasing the financial pressure on farmers.”