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McConalogue asked for his view on TB letters

“It is imperative that stakeholders work together in reducing TB rates to support and protect farm families.”

Those were the words of Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, as he responded to a parliamentary question raised by Brendan Griffin, TD for Kerry, in relation to the provision of personalised herd test history statements and reports to cattle farmers.

“The Bovine TB Forum Interim Report (published July 2019) identified the need to provide more effective information to farmers to help them reduce the risk of TB in their herd and advocated for the development of herd risk categories that are “simple, clear, and convey sufficient information to enable farmers to make the decisions appropriate to their situation”.”

“In line with this, the Department has developed individualised reports that provide a simplified TB herd risk category for farmers, with herd-specific advice on how to reduce the risk of TB.”

“Farmers are already provided with information in relation to their TB risk, but this new report presents this in a very much more user-friendly, detailed and practical form.”

“The TB herd history risk status will not be compulsorily displayed anywhere but individual farmers may wish to advertise their own herds’ status.”

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Highest level since 2012

While bTB disease is low relative to historical levels, TB herd incidence and reactor (bovines identified as infected with TB), numbers have been gradually increasing since 2016, the minister stressed.

“The pace of deterioration has accelerated in 2020. Herd incidence at 4.2% is now at its highest level since 2012 while reactor numbers at 21,000 are back at 2009 rates.”

As part of its on-going commitment towards TB eradication, he added, the department has also sanctioned an additional 16 posts across policy, operations, wildlife and the laboratory services, at an estimated additional annual cost of €1m per annum.

“My Department is eager to support eradication efforts through investment in disease-reducing initiatives.” he concluded.

The published Bovine TB Forum Interim Report, a sample of the TB Herd History risk statement and report and frequently asked questions can be found here.

Photo by Kelly Lacy from Pexels

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