Coveney’s Johne’s control programme commitment “forward-thinking”

Monday, 28 October, 2013

Ulster Farmers’ Union Animal Health and Welfare Chair Jonathan Moore has said that Simon Coveney’s recent announcement that his Department will financially support the start of a pilot voluntary Johne’s control programme is good news for the South, calling the commitment “forward-thinking”. The comments were made following a conference hosted by Animal Health Ireland (AHI) in Cork last week, which Jonathan and UFU Animal Health Policy Officer Caroline Buick attended.

Jonathan Moore said; “Tackling production diseases in the interest of both industry and the Government. For farmers, having a handle on these diseases will not only make farms more efficient, but should also help to boost farm profitability. These diseases are a drain on the system as well and can have an impact on trade and export markets, which is why Government and industry need to work together to address them. This is particularly important here in Northern Ireland given that both the Republic of Ireland (ROI) and Scotland are already quite far down the line in some of their disease eradication schemes.

“Good work is already under way here though with the creation of Animal Health and Welfare NI, which is a joint initiative between industry and Government. Currently a BVD Eradication Scheme in Northern Ireland is being progressed, and already a significant number of Persistently Infected calves (PI animals) have been identified. At the conference I was encouraged by reports from Switzerland where a calf tag tissue testing programme, similar to the one being rolled out in Northern Ireland, has been implemented. Switzerland is heading rapidly towards BVD free status, and is currently at the surveillance stage of their eradication scheme. It is hoped that a similar compulsory programme will be introduced in Northern Ireland and that we can replicate the progress made by Switzerland in tackling BVD.  

“Similar to ROI, Johne’s is firmly on the agenda here in Northern Ireland. It is good news for the South that Irish Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has shown his commitment to helping to eradicate Johne’s by providing funding for a pilot control project. I hope that our own Agriculture Minister will take notice of Mr. Coveney’s forward-thinking and consider making a similar commitment to tackling the Johne’s disease here at home.”