The Northern Ireland Assembly has been dissolved. The election will take place on Thursday 5 May 2016.

Committee Report Calls for Immediate Action on Bovine TB

Synopsis: Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development Launches its Report into Bovine Tuberculosis (TB). The Committee has called for the Department of Agriculture to take immediate action to investigate the recent rapid increase in disease rates.

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 27 November 2012

Reference: AGR 02/12/13

Launching its Report into Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) today, the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has called for the Department of Agriculture to take immediate action to investigate the recent rapid increase in disease rates.

Committee Chairperson, Mr Paul Frew MLA said: As a Committee, we are deeply concerned about the impact of this disease and in our Report, we are asking for more to be done so the disease is not able to take a firmer hold in Northern Ireland.  The Department must ensure the problem does not increase any further.  We need the Department to take action and to find out why there has been a huge rise in Bovine TB rates over the last 12 months – we must understand this disease in order to protect our cattle.”

Committee Deputy Chairperson, Mr Joe Byrne MLA said: “Although the Committee welcomed the recent announcement of the Department’s research programme into the role of wildlife in the spread of Bovine TB, we feel that it came at a very late stage.  We cannot afford to waste time or delay on any potential ways to eradicate the disease.  The Wildlife Intervention Research Programme, which will test and either vaccinate or remove affected wildlife, needs development and approval as soon as possible so we can start to tackle this disease.  We look forward to seeing the detail of the Programme so we can assess it as soon as possible.”

Mr Frew concluded: “As part of this Report we uncovered a huge amount of information and data on the subject of Bovine TB, but that much of the data is not shared or being used to its fullest extent.  A much more detailed analysis and joined-up approach is needed to examine all information available about the disease.  It is very worrying that the majority of cattle reactors to Bovine TB in Northern Ireland can be found in a small number of herds.  Why is this pattern occurring; how are various strains affecting the disease pattern; and is the occurrence of other diseases, such as liver fluke and Johne’s disease masking its detection?  These are important questions requiring answers which could be crucial in Northern Ireland’s fight against Bovine TB.”

The Committee’s Review into Bovine TB began in March 2012.  Since then, the Committee heard from a wide range of important stakeholders and concerned organisations to ensure it was fully briefed on all the issues related to Bovine TB.  The Committee also undertook a fact finding visit to England, visiting a range of experts and focusing on specific aspects of Bovine TB control that are not practised in Northern Ireland: namely the now delayed  English badger cull and badger vaccination.

The Assembly Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development today launched its Report into Bovine TB.  Pictured with the Report are Committee Members: (l-r) Mr Trevor Clarke MLA; Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA; Chairperson, Mr Paul Frew MLA; Mr Oliver McMullan MLA; Mr William Irwin MLA; and Mr Robin Swann MLA.

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