UFU comment on JR outcome

Two curious cow calves during a summer day.

Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) president David Brown said, “The Judicial Review ruling yesterday, which has now paused plans to tackle bovine TB in wildlife in hotspot areas in Northern Ireland, is a major blow for our livestock farmers. Farm families have been on their knees due to this disease for generations, and they are desperate for a successful strategy that will tackle TB in all its hosts ensuring healthy cattle and healthy wildlife.

“The UFU has been working relentlessly since the former DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA, launched the revised TB consultation. For the first time in generations, it showed real hope and a fresh approach to tackle TB which in April of this year, reached record levels.

“Between waiting on a new public consultation, a lack of an Executive at Stormont and the threat of further legal challenges by wildlife campaigners, it could take years before the issue of the TB reservoir in wildlife is addressed. However, rest assured, we will continue to lobby to get much needed wildlife intervention into place.

“The legal challenge and subsequent judgement in the High Court surrounded the procedure that DAERA followed in its public consultation, not the rights and wrongs of tackling TB in all its hosts in hotspot areas. Numerous independent expert groups have looked at this issue in great detail on behalf of DAERA over the years and all have concluded that the proposals to deal with all sources of the disease are required. The latest roadkill survey figures from DAERA also show TB incidence rates in the badger population are escalating.

“The farming community was prepared to fund wildlife intervention to help speed up its implementation. Monies were put to the side since May 2023 through voluntary levies on milk and beef. This fundraising effort will be paused for now.

“This setback is the last thing our members needed. It’s vital that in moving forward DAERA learns from this outcome, and that they reevaluate and amend their process in line with the Judge’s comments to get this over the line next time around. We will continue to work with DAERA and other stakeholders to move past this to deliver a sustainable and workable solution to protect cattle and wildlife from this disease.”