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Clare farmers urged to participate in postal protest

CLARE farmers are being urged to post back new controversial TB herd history letters to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine as a form of protest.

There has been a furious reaction by farming organisations and farmers to the department’s decision to send out these letters to herdowners.

The call for a postal protest was made this week by Clare Beef Plan chairman, Joe Woulfe, who asked why the DAFM are doing this unnecessary measure, as farmers already know whether they had TB or were TB free over the last ten years.

“If a farmer has TB, it is not something they will forget as you can’t move your cattle.

“The Department aren’t offering a reward if a farmer didn’t have TB in one year or ten years.

96.5% of TB has been eradicated from the national herd. What is the definition of eradication?

“In my view, it has been eradicated if 96.5% of the herd is TB free.

“The farmer can only control what he can on his land but he can’t control the wildlife who must be spreading it. The state has to take its share of responsibility for controlling wildllife.

“It is impossible to get 100% of the national herd TB free.”

The Independent Farmers Organisation of Ireland has described the department’s proposal on cattle movements to curb TB as “outrageous” and, if tolerated, the group warned this would destroy livestock farming in Ireland.

The group criticised the assertion that cattle who are all certified as disease free but could share a common air space while in the confines of a cattle mart are in some way at greater risk of contracting TB from other disease free cattle at the same mart.

IFOI director, Seamus Shannon claimed the department’s proposal would have the effect of reducing the current unacceptable cap of four livestock movements down to zero, at a time when farmers who protested outside meat factories in 2019, want the cap of four movements totally abolished.

ICSA Animal Health and Welfare chairman, Hugh Farrell has advised farmers that the TB herd history letters should be ignored.

“Many farmers are in a state of panic and confusion particularly in relation to advice to cull cattle, even though those animals have never tested positive for TB. This is causing a lot of confusion and worry, and it is particularly regrettable that this was done in the absence of a functioning Minister for Agriculture.”

“Farmers need to be aware that there is no requirement on them whatsoever to cull any animals listed on this letter and they are free to completely ignore any implications. ICSA will be demanding that the new Minister rolls back on this and does not attempt to impose further restrictions.”

The department has stated the letters sets out to provide information to farmers about their own herds and don’t require farmers to do anything.

The department bases its policy and advice on the science – there is a large body of independent, robust scientific research on how TB infects cattle, which must continue to be the basis of disease policy and advice.

“It is by acknowledging the science of how TB spreads between cattle that will help us eradicate this disease.

“The Department of Agriculture has, for many years, been informing farmers of their risk statuses in TB testing letters.

“These new risk categorisations replaced older categorisations, which were complex and were primarily used internally to manage the programme,” the department stated.


Dan Danaher

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