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DARD TB Proposals a New Low Point for Farmers

05 March 2012

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - The Ulster Farmers’ Union has described DARD plans to cut TB compensation rates as a new low point for farmers, left frustrated by repeated outbreaks of the disease.

The UFU says proposals outlined this week at the Stormont Agriculture Committee by Veterinary Service and Animal Health and Welfare officials are further evidence that DARD has no strategic plan to eradicate the disease.

UFU President John Thompson said: “While vets and policy officials in other parts of the world have had the vision and determination to implement policies which have eradicated TB, our officials are more worried about short term money saving and imposing even more restrictions on farmers. This is a serious blow being imposed by DARD on a farming industry which has been blighted by TB for over 60 years."

"Farmers will be bewildered by DARD official’s unwillingness or inability to take the necessary action to decisively deal with TB. Their plan to cut TB compensation while having absolutely no plan to remove the disease from wildlife, will simply penalise farmers and do nothing to help eradicate the disease. DARD are being very selective by highlighting that their move to cut compensation is in response to concerns from the EU that compensation is not being reappraised as part of our control programme and is therefore putting money from the EU Veterinary Fund for this programme at risk but yet they are not meaningfully addressing one of the other EU requirements for our control programme that action is to be taken on wildlife. This only goes to show that DARD’s policy is to save money and not to eradicate TB.”

Mr Thompson added: “While DEFRA are moving ahead with plans to tackle the disease in other parts of the UK, Senior DARD vets and policy advisors are dithering in their actions against TB, seemingly unwilling or unable to take decisive action against the disease. In fairness the Stormont Agriculture Committee rightly challenged DARD’s representatives on their weak approach to TB and I would encourage them to continue to hold DARD to account on this important issue."

"Farmers will not take kindly to the criticism levelled at them by the DARD officials at the Stormont Committee. I would publicly remind them that over two million TB tests per year are being carried out on local farms which is a huge burden on the industry and of course any farmer ‘closed’ with TB knows only too well the disruption and financial cost which this brings. As we have said many times before, it is pointless to continue with DARD’s current policy where every year thousands of cattle go down with TB, these animals are slaughtered, the farm re-stocks and eventually succumbs again to TB because the disease remained on the farm in wildlife.

"Now DARD is proposing to complement their impotent TB policy with plans to cut the compensation to producers affected. This is a big set back and we will oppose it totally. Farmers want nothing less than decisive action to deal with TB and it is regrettable that DARD’s senior vets and policy staff have repeatedly not been up to the challenge.”

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