The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (DAERA) Rural Needs Annual Monitoring Report has shown that the eradication of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) must be a top priority.

The report, which was published today (Thursday, December 22), said that the “achievement of the eradication of bTB from the Northern Ireland cattle herd is vital for our cattle health, human health and trade exports”.

The department said the aim is to address the economic and social impacts that bTB has on the rural economy, farm businesses and on farmers and rural communities.

“DAERA is committed to making farm businesses sustainable and working with industry to increase trade and reduce the stress that a TB breakdown causes,” the department said.

“To achieve this, DAERA is seeking to work better with farmers, vets, conservationists, landowners and other key stakeholders to improve and enhance the current regime of testing and disease prevention, and to stop the disease entering the farm in the first place.

The Rural Needs Annual Monitoring Report

The Rural Needs Act (NI) 2016 was introduced with the aim of delivering fairer outcomes for rural communities in Northern Ireland by ensuring that the social and economic needs of people in rural areas are given attention by public authorities.

The Rural Needs Annual Monitoring Report provides a record of all Rural Needs Impact Assessments undertaken by public authorities and contains information on how rural needs have been considered by public authorities when developing policies.

The process of creating the report, DAERA said, helps to ensure that public authorities understand the impact of their decisions on rural communities.

Director of Rural Affairs at DAERA, Teresa O’Neill, said: “The report demonstrates that the Rural Needs Impact Assessment process is now well established within public authorities and that public authorities are taking steps to identify and address the particular needs of rural communities.

“Rural communities often face unique challenges due to geographical isolation including poor quality broadband, increased transport costs and difficulties in accessing public services and therefore a different approach is often required to address the particular needs of people in rural areas to ensure that rural dwellers are not disadvantaged.

“DAERA will continue to work with public authorities to help ensure that the Rural Needs Act (NI) 2016 is implemented effectively and delivers better outcomes for rural dwellers in the future.”

A full copy of the Rural Needs Annual Monitoring Report April 2021 – March 2022 is available on DAERA’s website.