Press Release

Charges for animal testing are an unacceptable burden says Committee

Session: 2007/2008

Date: Thursday, 12 June 2008

Reference: ARG 18/07/08

Department of Agriculture plans to charge farmers for compulsory animal testing has been condemned by the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development today as an unacceptable burden.

The process, which would see farmers being charged both for compulsory testing and testing during outbreaks of diseases such as bluetongue and foot mouth, was criticised as putting yet another unacceptable burden on farmers at a time when they most needed the support of the Department.

Chairperson of the Committee, Dr William McCrea, said, "The Department is calling for farmers to share the responsibility for disease control and the costs for treating that disease. But they forget that farmers do accept responsibility for control of disease in Northern Ireland and this is evident in the hundreds of millions they spend a year on veterinary medicines for animals.

"Let us not be fooled by the Department’s pronouncements – the Department wants to introduce this to bring about "efficiencies". This from a department that overvalued Crossnacreevy by some £197 million, that overspent on the Single Farm Payment by £16 million, that spends farmers’ money on the Rural Development Programme whilst hoarding £28 million match funding in what it calls a savings account and which hands back £31 million whilst our industry flounders.

"The department is in no position to preach to the agricultural industry about efficiencies. This is a blatant attempt to pass the cost of its own inefficiencies and failures onto the easy target of the farming public. I can assure you that this Committee will resist this at every opportunity."

ENDS


Notes to Editors:

The Chairperson was speaking at a Committee meeting in the Manor Suite at Greenmount Agricultural College where they also received a presentation on the role of the Department as the "Rural Champion".

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