UFU concerned by TB proposals

Thursday, 30 November, 2017

Ulster Farmers’ Union deputy president, Victor Chestnutt, says DAERA’s long overdue consultation on plans for tackling TB is a mixed bag. “We need to consider the document in full and consult with members but our initial reaction is that while there are some proposals we can support; we have serious concerns about others.”

The comments were made following DAERA’s announcement of a public consultation on proposals for eradicating bovine TB. The plans are based on the recommendations from the TB Strategic Partnership group (TBSPG) and the consultation was due to be published at the beginning of 2017 but has been delayed as result of the situation at Stormont.

Mr Chestnutt says it is positive the department recognises the need to address TB in wildlife and the Union will be making a strong case for a robust wildlife intervention programme. “The Union has always argued that meaningful action to tackle TB in wildlife must be taken before changes to compensation or how tests are paid for is even considered. To date, the department has failed to do this. We have serious concerns about any suggested changes to compensation or testing without the implementation of robust action to tackle TB in wildlife.”

The UFU is supportive of the proposals to create an overarching body and regional bodies to help coordinate efforts to eradicate TB. “This would give farmers greater input and control in tackling TB in their area. A coordinated approach is essential to help rid the countryside of this disease. Ideally, the farmer representatives on these groups will be nominated by the farming community and have a meaningful role in taking decisions,” says Mr Chestnutt.

“TB has frustrated farmers for decades and is currently causing major problems on farms across the country. Everyone recognises the present situation cannot continue and action must be taken. Difficult decisions will have to be made,” says the UFU deputy president.