ICSA Animal Health & Welfare Chairperson, Hugh Farrell, has reiterated that the body’s objective in TB talks is to ensure ‘fair play’ for farmers who have been affected by a TB outbreak.
“Recent reports that an increase in the TB levy is being discussed lacks context,” he said.
“We have made a fair package for farmers a condition of our continued participation in the TB Forum talks and our key asks are better Income Supplement, Depopulation, and Hardship Grants, along with the removal of ceilings on compensation”.
Mr. Farrell said the position is that a much-improved package of payments for farmers was now on the table.
“ICSA has also put a lot of hours into removing the current compensation ceilings which are capped at €3,000, for all stock except one stock bull (capped at €5,000 for pedigrees, €4,000 for non-pedigrees). This has imposed huge hardship on farmers with high value stock especially pedigree herds and I know this from personal experience of helping members,” he said.
“In that context, we accept that some increase in the levy paid on cattle slaughtered (around 13c/head) might be warranted provided it is 100 per cent used for increased payments to farmers with bad outbreaks of TB. This would cover Income Supplement, Depopulation and Hardship Grants, which has been a long-standing sore for the farmers affected”.
The Animal Health & Welfare Chair said the ICSA works on the basis that farmer with a TB outbreak had suffered a devastating blow and more needed to be done for those affected.
“Regarding the new Animal Health Law, which is making some pre and post movement testing compulsory, we have fought very hard to ensure that this is limited to a small cohort of animals,” he said.
“Contrary to some headlines, it is not two tests per annum for all farmers. It is a limited amount of testing for cattle such as breeding animals that are not being sold for finishing and which are more than six months from test.
“ICSA is insisting that this change will be funded fully by the Department. This is still the subject of major disagreement at the TB Forum. Unless there is movement on this by the Minister the whole TB Forum process could be undermined,” he concluded.