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New TB Regulations Must be Halted-Consultations Needed With Farming Bodies

The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, must defer implementation of the recently signed TB regulations which are due to come into effect on 1st April 2015 to allow for meaningful consultation on the issues raised by the farming organisations.. These regulations are being introduced by the Minister despite the fact that farmers contribute 30million Euro annually to the TB eradication scheme and incur the burden of the controls and restrictions under the programme.

The new TB regulations do not respect the long standing agreement reached with the Department of Agriculture in 1995, when TB testing was privatised and must therefore be amended. The new regulations potentially expose farmers to all TB testing costs despite the long standing commitment that farmers are liable to pay for no more than one full herd test in a calendar year and at no shorter interval than 10 months. The Minister must amend the order to bring it into line with this fundamental principal of the TB eradication programme and protect farmers from enormous and unacceptable cost increases.

The new regulations prohibit the standard treatment of animal with veterinary medicines once notification to test has been received by the herd owner. Herd test notificationsare issued generally 6 weeks prior to test date. The effect of this new measure is that farmers who treat their animals in full compliance with their obligations under the animal remedies regulations, will be deemed to have committed an offence under the TB regulations. This is a fundamental change to existing legislation which plays no part in the eradication of TB but exposes farmers to further unnecessary costs and sanction. This has major repercussions for all farmers.

In relation to compensation the Minister has written into the regulation the maximum amount payable as compensation for animals in the live valuation scheme. It is unnecessary and unacceptable that ceilings are being placed on the compensation payable in a live valuation scheme. The ceiling amounts included in the order have not been increased by the Department since 2007.

I am calling on Minister Coveney to defer implementation of the TB regulations and allow meaningful engagement on all the detailed changes sought by the farming organisations to the TB programme including income supplement rates and the prohibition on purchasing animals into restricted holdings