Farmers could pay for TB tests under range of radical proposals

Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) today launched a public consultation on a range of proposals to work towards the eradication of bovine TB in the region.

The measures include payment for TB tests, a cap on compensation, badger removal and the creation of new regional boards.

These are in response to the report produced by the independent TB Strategic Partnership Group (TBSPG) in December 2016.

The consultation outlines the department’s response to the recommendations made in the TBSPG report across a number of key programme areas including:

  • Management and partnership working;
  • Testing and processes;
  • Approaches to dealing with TB in wildlife;
  • How to address bovine TB risk in the industry and improve the health of the herd;
  • Finance and funding of the programme;
  • And plans for future research into TB.

Robert Huey, chief veterinary officer for Northern Ireland said: “I am all too aware of the devastating impact of bovine TB right across the Northern Ireland agriculture industry.

The rates of bovine TB continue to rise and latest figures show a herd incidence rate of 9.26%.

“Given the significant rise in the incidence of bovine TB; the concern of the farming community; and the pressure of rising costs on our budget; the department has decided that we should move forward with a consultation on proposals responding to the recommendations made by TBSPG last December.”

The key proposals are:

  • New management/partnership arrangements with a Northern Ireland Eradication Partnership Board, three sub-regional boards and ad hoc local disease teams;
  • A number of enhancements and additions to the existing Eradication Programme;
  • A programme of badger removal and vaccination in targeted areas;
  • Greater emphasis and ownership by the farming industry on reducing risk through better herd health management;
  • Changes to the compensation system and the introduction of a payment for an annual herd test.

Huey added: “I would strongly encourage all those who are interested – both inside and outside the farming community – to read the proposals in full, as a package of measures, which we believe can achieve eradication. They should respond as fully as possible to the consultation.”

Responses can be made online until February 1 2018.