Animal Health and Welfare

DAERA TB proposals a new low point, says UFU

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) slams the intent of DAERA’s consultation on the proposal to reduce the compensation rate for cattle removed under the bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) programme. The UFU says the consultation published today (12 January), is a new low point for farmers and if implemented, the proposals will reduce the payments farmers receive for cattle that react to a bTB test.

The consultation is seeking views on whether the amount of compensation payable should be reduced on a phased basis, with a reduction to 90% of the bovine animal’s market value in the first year of implementation with a further reduction to 75% of the animal’s market value a year later.

UFU president David Brown said, “The UFU has serious concerns about DAERA’s consultation proposals to cut stock value and it is a new low point for our farmers. Members continue to be blighted by bTB on farms and it’s having a severe impact not only on the Northern Ireland (NI) livestock industry, but on the well-being of our farmers. A reduction in stock value will mean our members will not be fully reimbursed for the worth of their animals. Farmers already bear a loss of income from those animals that are removed when bTB positive. To devalue cattle’s worth after the animals have fallen victim to a disease that has become rampant in our region because of our department’s inability to deliver an effective eradication programme, is nothing short of barefaced robbery. DAERA failed to deliver a wildlife intervention programme that has been an integral component in reducing infection levels in other jurisdictions, and although there is still intent to do so, our members cannot be expected to carry any further costs because of DAERA’s shortcomings.”

The UFU previously requested a meeting with the Secretary of State for NI, Chris Heaton-Harris, following the publication of measures relating to cost savings in NI, but no response was received.

“All of the measures proposed by the Secretary of State relate to the provision of goods and/or services. The only exception is the proposal to intervene on the money which our members receive for their cattle. This is theft and will not be tolerated by UFU membership. The reality is, nothing has progressed since DAERA’s bTB eradication strategy announcement in 2021. This is a serious blow for the farming industry and the UFU will be robustly objecting to the proposals within the consultation.

“DAERA’s consultation proposals threaten the future of any farm which becomes infected with bTB. I urge anyone who is remotely interested in NI’s food security to respond to this consultation – it is a straightforward process that should be given top priority.

“The UFU is seeking legal advice on this matter and will be taking every step to stop this proposal in its tracks,” said Mr Brown.

To respond to DAERA’s consultation click here.