UFU comment on new Partnership to eradicate TB

Wednesday, 18 September, 2013

The Ulster Farmers’ Union have welcomed Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill’s announcement of her plans to establish a government/industry Strategic Partnership to develop a long term strategy to eradicate bovine TB from cattle in Northern Ireland.

Commenting on the announcement UFU President Harry Sinclair said; “Bovine TB is causing major hardship within the farming industry and it has to be resolved.  Farmers are fed up talking about TB and are fed up with all the costs which it generates for the industry.  Back in December 2008 former Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew outlined her plans of a new strategic approach to deal with the issue of TB in cattle and while we agreed with the three strands of the strategy which were: real partnership between government and industry; controlling the spread of TB between cattle; and addressing the wildlife factor, unfortunately a lack of clear targets on timescale and guaranteed resources to help deliver this strategy resulted in little progress being made. This is something which we hope Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill can learn from as she plans to establish this strategic partnership to develop a long term strategy to tackle and eradicate bovine TB from cattle. 

“The onus will be firmly on our Minister to take action and deliver on this strategic plan once it has been developed.  There needs to be a clear realistic timescale and guaranteed resources set in place if government and industry are to deliver on a strategy that will effectively eradicate this disease. One overriding issue is that the industry cannot accept any changes to be made to compensation rates until all factors are addressed and in particular the issue of TB in wildlife.”   

Jonathon Moore, Chairman of the UFU Animal Health Committee, added; “Farmers with herds closed because of TB want a strategy which will seriously address the urgent need to remove TB from the countryside once and for all including the removal of diseased wildlife.  It is pointless to continue with the current situation where cattle go down with TB, the animals are slaughtered, the farm re-stocks and eventually goes down again with TB because the disease remained on the farm in wildlife.  We are pleased to hear that the current TVR wildlife research project is making good progress and that if the results are favourable, then the project will become part of the longer term TB eradication strategy.”