Fianna Fáil Senator Eugene Murphy
Fianna Fáil Senator Eugene Murphy said he is confident that the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue will deliver real change in the TB programme and he called for a withdrawal of the Herd Risk letters which he claims are putting extra pressure and strain on farming families.
Senator Murphy said that he had made contact with Minister McConalogue on the issue and he was confident that the new Minister would review the ongoing situation and help to bring necessary changes to the TB programme.
“There has been a blacklisting of farmers with the TB Herd Risk letters and there is real anger amongst farming families about this issue and I believe these letters need to be withdrawn.
"Such letters are exerting pressure and strain on farming families and these letters are asking farmers to get rid to older cattle despite the fact that the animals did not fail a test- it is causing widespread anger and distress among the farming community,” said Senator Murphy.
While TB disease is low relative to historical levels, TB herd incidence and reactor (bovines identified as infected with TB), numbers have been gradually increasing since 2016.
Minister McConalogue recently indicated that the pace of deterioration has accelerated in 2020. Herd incidence at 4.2% is now at its highest level since 2012 while reactor numbers at 21,000 are back at 2009 rates.
Senator Murphy said that he was confident that Minister McConalogue was serious about tackling the issue and as part of its on-going commitment towards TB eradication, the department has also sanctioned an additional 16 posts across policy, operations, wildlife and the laboratory services, at an estimated additional annual cost of €1m per annum.
“The Department is eager to support eradication efforts through investment in disease-reducing initiatives, but we also need to withdraw these Herd Risk letters and work with the farming community to eradicate TB,” concluded Senator Murphy.