UFU criticises UUP over TB

Thursday, 3 May, 2018

The Ulster Farmer’s Union has criticised recent claims by the Ulster Unionist Party leader, Robin Swann, about TB reactor fraud as ‘wrong and unhelpful’. UFU president, Ivor Ferguson, said;  “We’ve had a number of calls from members saying these comments were potentially damaging and not reflective of the main priorities of the industry in relation to TB eradication.” 

The UFU says the vast majority of farmers are not involved in TB reactor fraud and are understandably angry when the selfish actions of a few undermine the collective efforts of the industry to eradicate the disease. 

“Occasionally, we have cases raised that suggest a very small minority of unscrupulous people are prepared to commit fraud for selfish reasons.  This is wholly to the detriment of other farmers.  This is why we have called, for some time, for DAERA to strengthen its counter-fraud measures and allow private veterinary practitioners (PVPs) to be able to DNA tag TB reactor animals,” said Mr Ferguson. 

The UFU says DAERA has accepted the need for this to happen, but the legislative change needs ministerial approval.  It says this cannot happen without wider political agreement. 

“Having recently met the UUP, we are frustrated the party has chosen to raise this issue in the media, when steps have been taken to address the issue. I believe the UUP has missed what farmers consider the main priority for progress in eradicating TB.  That is addressing TB in wildlife. This alone would break the cycle of farmers testing animals and removing reactors only for the disease to be reintroduced by infected wildlife,” said the UFU president.