Welcome from Committee as TVR Project Gets Off the Ground

Synopsis: The Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has welcomed the start of the long awaited Test and Vaccinate or Remove (TVR) project. Departmental Officials recently updated Members on the project's initial implementation in the Banbridge area.

Session: 2013/2014

Date: 03 July 2014

Reference: AGR 12/13/14

The Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has welcomed the start of the long awaited Test and Vaccinate or Remove (TVR) project. Departmental Officials recently updated Members on the project's initial implementation in the Banbridge area.

 The TVR Research project was originally announced by the Minister in July 2012 and aims to describe the effects of implementing a test and vaccinate or remove intervention on badgers in areas of high cattle TB prevalence. 

Committee Chairperson Paul Frew MLA said:" My Committee is pleased but concerned that following a longer than expected delay, the Department’s TVR project has finally got off the ground. We still have some very serious reservations about the projected length of the study, analysis of results and the feasibility of piloting the project in such a limited testing area. We are also concerned that should the initial testing area provide successful results, it will still take some time to roll the project out across Northern Ireland.

Mr Frew continued: “The TVR project came about as a direct result of the Committee’s 2012 report into bovine TB, in which we underlined our concern that the Department was not doing enough to examine and tackle the wildlife factor in the fight against this devastating disease.  It is the Committee’s duty, and one that we take very seriously, to closely scrutinise and monitor the viability of the department’s work including the effectiveness of this project. We fully intend to carry out a number of site visits during the summer with departmental staff to scrutinise the operational and practical aspects of this research project.”

Mr Frew concluded: “Of course, testing the viability of any research project will take time and the important point for us is that the Department is taking a very positive first step in the battle to tackle and eradicate bovine TB. For that reason, we would call farmers and landowners to give the necessary permission for the project teams to access their land and implement the initial stages of the research.”

Committee Deputy Chairperson Joe Byrne MLA added: “The implementation of the TVR project is a positive step, however we remain disappointed at the lack of progress on the establishment of the Strategic Partnership Group which was announced by the Minister in September 2013 and which was to be tasked with producing a longer term strategy to tackle bovine TB.

“Bovine TB remains a costly and devastating disease, causing significant financial and emotional stress to farmers, their families and rural communities. It is crucial that the Minister and her Department do everything they can to prioritise and develop a cohesive and fully holistic approach to tackling this serious issue once and for all.”  

ENDS

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