The Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) have stated that famers cannot be expected to make up for any monetary shortfall in the TB eradication scheme.
Hugh Farrell, ICSA Animal Health and Welfare chair, spoke following the announcement that the European Union will implement minor reductions to the funding for the TB eradication scheme.
“You cannot plan for a 30% expansion in agri-food exports on the one hand and then assume that there will be no impact on costs on department programmes such as TB,” he said.
“So while the farmer contribution is increasing through testing more animals and through more levies, it is only fair and logical that the Department contribution should increase in line with the increase in agri-food exports to about €59 million, all other things being equal.”
Farrell said that there is potential for the Department to reduce expenditure through greater efficiency and cutting out of waste, which would in turn help fund the shortfall in funding.
“The ICSA has asked for a breakdown of where the TB scheme administration budget goes, and we have got no response yet. However, we are hopeful that the Grant Thornton review may come forward with some clarity on this,” Farrell continued.
“Some of the figures look slightly worse such as herd incidence. However, according to the Department’s figures, the overall number of reactors for 2019 (17,058) actually went down compared to 2018 (17,491) – a drop of 433.”
The ICSA acknowledged that the loss of the €900,000 in EU funding is a “side issue” in comparison to the issues about “whether the administration of the TB programme is efficient or whether the issue of deer in TB spread is being properly faced up to.”
“Farmers are very frustrated that TB is still very prevalent in areas where deer is a factor and the Department remains in denial about the role of deer,” the statement concluded.