Farmers urged to share their bovine TB story in NI consultation

Farmers have been urged to share their personal bovine TB story in response to the consultation over Northern Ireland’s new eradication strategy.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) urged farmers to respond individually to the department’s consultation, which is due to close on September 10, and can be accessed here on the DAERA website.

The UFU Executive Committee met on Zoom on Wednesday (August 25) to agree on the union’s position regarding the proposed measures.

The proposals put forward by Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots include a £5,000/animal cap on compensation rates for lost stock, as well as plans to almost double the number of gamma interferon blood tests carried out over the next three years.

New powers will also mandate the testing of some non-bovine animals, such as deer and camelids, in holdings where cattle are not present.

‘Every farmer in Northern Ireland has a TB story’

UFU president Victor Chestnutt said: “Released by DAERA in July of this year, the proposed bovine TB strategy has huge implications for all livestock farmers across Northern Ireland.

“Its implementation would see changes to the criteria for testing, as well reductions in livestock valuation payments that have the potential to wipe out family farms altogether which is a major concern.

“We’re glad to see DAERA are working to tackle bovine TB in all hosts. This approach is key to getting rid of the disease once and for all.

“To date, only bovines have been subject to action with poor levels of success in bTB eradication, enabling the disease to continue to plague our farmers, seriously impacting their mental health as well as creating financial pressure.

“We will be issuing guidance to members on the bovine TB eradication strategy consultation and I urge everyone to act. It’s critical that everyone takes a short time out of their day to respond to what is, a once in a generation opportunity.

Every farmer in Northern Ireland has a TB story and we must use our individual stories to influence the future of a bovine TB eradication strategy in NI and develop a solution that will work for the farming industry.”

Readers who would like to speak with an Agriland journalist about their experiences of bovine TB can email [email protected].

If you need to talk to a mental health professional, Rural Support can be contacted on 0800 138 1678 or the Samaritans on 116 123.