DARD's Compensation Plans Criticised

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Misguided Department of Agriculture (DARD) plans to introduce pre-tabled, average price compensation for bovine tuberculosis (TB) and brucellosis reactors will inflict unnecessary damage on Northern Ireland’s unique beef breeding structures, says the National Beef Association (NBA).
calendar icon 14 June 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

As well as this it will significantly undermine the important contribution to the economy created by income earned from high value cattle.

The NBA says it is appalled at DARD’s intention, which it terms “short sighted, destructive and unfair”, to impose an ill-conceived plan to save money – which in fact will do the opposite and create more cost instead.

“The Department has reached the conclusion, while ignoring evidence which clearly points to the contrary, that introducing disease compensation based on average prices will generate savings that will benefit the general economy,” explained the Association’s national chairman, Oisin Murnion.

“It ignores absolutely the immediate and long term, savings that would result from a determined effort to stamp out brucellosis by slaughtering out all affected herds – which should eventually make compensation to farmers unnecessary.”

“And has taken no account of the high proportion of beef cattle that are pedigree because one of the obvious responses to NI’s peculiarly high land cost, and the limit this puts on farm size, is to generate adequate income by producing the greatest possible number of high value, pedigree, stock.”

“In these circumstances it is impossible for the NBA to agree to a proposal that is short sighted, destructive, and miserly and must therefore be universally rejected and replaced with positive, anti-disease, strategies that will deliver actual benefit instead of collateral structural harm.”

At the core of the NBA’s objection is the Department’s inaccurate assumption that payment of compensation based on a calculated average is just, effective, and fair.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. If the average house value in Northern Ireland was £150,000 is DARD seriously suggesting that the owner of a mansion should only receive £150,000 if it stood in the way of a road widening scheme,” said Mr Murnion?

“The same principle applies to cattle too. Northern Ireland has a higher proportion of high value pedigrees than any other part of the UK and reports from the mainland, where table valuation has already been imposed, is that farmers in TB hot spot areas give up pedigree breeding because the risk of their businesses being damaged by inadequate compensation is too great.”

“The NBA also resents the implication that changes to compensation procedures are needed so fraudulent claims can be reduced when the latest Audit Office report confirms that between 2001 and 2009 there were 12.8 million TB tests - but only two convictions for fraud.”

“And it will resist any move, from any organisation or group, to back tabled valuation for brucellosis only because this would establish a precedent which would inevitably lead to the introduction for a similar change to TB compensation rules only a short time later,” Mr Murnion added.

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