Department Must do More to Eradicate Bovine TB Says Committee

Synopsis: The Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has told the Department that it must do more to implement and develop agreed measures to tackle and eradicate Bovine TB.

Session: 2013/2014

Date: 09 April 2014

Reference: AGR 10/13/14

The Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has told the Department that it must do more to implement and develop agreed measures to tackle and eradicate Bovine TB. Departmental officials attended Tuesday’s (8 April 2014) Committee meeting to update Members on the progress made towards implementing recommendations stemming from the Committee's 2012 report into Bovine TB.

Speaking after the meeting, Committee Chairperson Paul Frew MLA said: "While the Committee welcomes the announcement that new herd breakouts have decreased by 12.7% this year, we remain concerned that more must be done to sustain this reduction and to eradicate Bovine TB completely.

“Back in September 2013, the Minister told us of her intention to establish a cross government/industry Strategic Partnership Group to produce a longer-term strategy and action plan to eradicate Bovine TB. However, we learn today, that almost nine months later no progress has been made in relation to this plan.

Mr Frew concluded: "The Committee accepts that there can be no one stop shop to finding a solution to this issue and that many factors contribute to the existence and spread of the disease. However, farmers, their families and rural communities are continuing to suffer personal and financial stresses due to herd breakdowns. The Minister and her Department must do all that they can, as quickly as they can, to prioritise and action a cohesive and feasible approach towards tackling this very serious issue once and for all.”

Committee Deputy Chairperson Joe Byrne MLA added: “In the 15 years leading up to March 2011 Bovine TB has cost the local economy around £317m. This is a substantial amount of money in anyone’s book, particularly when we consider that the bulk of this has gone towards the testing regime and on compensation payments for the slaughter of infected animals.

Mr Byrne concluded: “The Department must act now to redirect its focus and all available funds towards developing clear and practical preventative measures to eradicate this scourge. In the longer term this approach can only result in the availability of more funding to support and further develop local farms, the agricultural industry and rural communities.”

ENDS

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