UFU submit response on Bovine Tuberculosis Control in Northern Ireland to Independent TB Strategic Partnership

Wednesday, 28 January, 2015

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has submitted a response to the Independent TB Strategic Partnership Group (TBSP) outlining the Union’s views with regards to the control of Bovine Tuberculosis in Northern Ireland including how it would be possible to reduce the incidence of TB in cattle, its impact on the Northern Ireland farming industry over a period of years, and on how the cost of the programme could be reduced.

UFU President Ian Marshall said; “Within our response we focused on a number of key aspects that we feel could contribute towards the control and eradication of TB. We believe that Northern Ireland’s TB programme is one of the most robust in Europe with regard to cattle movements but dealing with TB in wildlife has consistently been a key priority for us and while we support the operation of the now significantly delayed and ‘watered down’ Badger Test, Vaccinate or Remove (TVR) Project, it is essential that the ongoing findings from this Project are made available with wider action being taken based on preliminary conclusions, including alternative control measures if these are inconclusive.  We have also stressed in our response to the TBSP that until the outstanding TB control issue of disease in wildlife is adequately addressed our members are unwilling to consider any changes to the existing compensation arrangements for TB.”

Ian continued; “In terms of vaccination and bio security we recognise that they too play an important role in the control of TB. With possible vaccinations there are a number of drawbacks to consider such as the very real legislative and practical problems with the development and availability of an effective vaccine for either cattle or badgers. In addition, the difficulties and cost associated with the implementation of biosecurity measures on farm are also an issue and must as a minimum be incentivised at farm level.  We have also been asking for some time that Alternative Control Herds, similar to those in GB and ROI, are established here in Northern Ireland to provide an outlet for cattle from ‘closed’ herds.  However, we feel that the subsequently introduced requirements regarding Alternative Control Herds need to be revised in order to make this option more viable.”

It is hoped that the TB Strategic Partnership will consider the UFU’s response as they develop their report to Minister O’Neill on a long term strategy and action plan for the eradication of TB in cattle in Northern Ireland.