In this article, the ICSA’s animal health and welfare chair, Hugh Farrell, clarifies efforts to secure better supports for farmers impacted by a TB outbreaks.
I am reiterating that ICSA’s objective in TB talks is to get fair play for farmers affected by a TB outbreak.
Recent reports that an increase in the TB levy is being discussed lack context.
We have made a fair package for farmers as a condition of our continued participation in the TB Forum talks.
Key asks are better income supplement, depopulation and hardship grants, along with removing the ceilings on compensation.
The position now is that, in principle, a much-improved package on payments for farmers with a bad outbreak of TB is on the table, as well as a significantly improved wildlife measures fund.
Furthermore, we have always said that controlling infected wildlife is critical to success in TB eradication.
We are working towards the DAFM paying more in this area against a backdrop of phrasing out EU funding.
ICSA has also put a lot of hours into removing the current compensation ceilings, which are capped at €3,000, for all stock except one stock bull. (capped at €5,000 for pedigrees, €4,000 for non-pedigrees).
This has imposed huge hardship on farmers with high-value stock, especially pedigree herds. I know this from personal experience of helping members.
In that context, we accept that some increase in the levy paid on cattle slaughtered (around 13c/head) might be warranted, provided it is 100% used for increased payments to farmers with bad outbreaks of TB.
This would cover income supplement, depopulation and hardship grants, which has been a long-standing sore for the farmers impacted.
ICSA works on the basis that farmers with a TB outbreak have suffered a devastating blow.
The TB programme going forward is only acceptable on the basis that it does more for people in this misfortunate situation.
Pre and post-movement testing
Regarding the new Animal Health Law, which is making some pre and post-movement testing compulsory, we have fought very hard to ensure that the DAFM limits this to a small cohort of animals.
Contrary to some reports, it is not two tests per annum for all farmers.
It is a limited amount of testing for cattle, such as breeding animals that are not being sold for finishing and which are more than six months from test.
Moreover, ICSA is insisting that the DAFM fully funds this change. This is still the subject of major disagreement at the TB Forum.
Lastly, unless there is movement on this by the minister, the whole TB Forum process could be undermined.