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Minister McConalogue commends the work of the Bovine TB Stakeholder Forum

Minister McConalogue commends the work of the Bovine TB Stakeholder Forum

Announces a new on-line auction facility for test negative animals from TB restricted herds

The Bovine TB Stakeholders Forum held its eighteenth meeting at Backweston Campus today. Discussion focused on current disease trends and a paper presented by the forum’s scientific working group on regionalisation of the TB Programme.

Reflecting on the Bovine TB Stakeholders Forum’s successful collaboration to date, Minister McConalogue said:

“The TB Forum has demonstrated the vital importance of open discussion and collaboration and I wholeheartedly acknowledge the huge effort that all stakeholders are making. Their work has resulted in a number of important enhancements to the programme.”

The Minister also said:

“The Forum’s recommendations have been key to the development of policies that can help to reduce and ultimately eradicate TB. However, TB levels remain stubbornly high and continue to cause hardship to farm families. The cost of the TB programme to the State is now almost double what it was in 2019. The most effective way to assist farmers, and where the cost of the programme can be reduced for all stakeholders, is to reduce disease levels. That is why we all must refocus our energies on examining and advancing options, which may involve difficult decisions to reduce the overall disease levels and therefore the cost of the programme for everyone.”

Speaking on the scientific approach to reduce TB levels, the Minister said:

“My Department has excellent systems in place which contain a wealth of data on TB in herds. I would like to see this data being used more effectively to reduce the levels of the disease. Control and management of TB is a challenge, but if we continue to work together, we can make progress.”

Minister McConalogue also announced a new on-line auction facility for test negative animals, from TB restricted herds. Previously TB restricted herds could only sell test negative animals directly to slaughter or in a small number of cases to an individual TB restricted Controlled Finishing Unit (CFU) for onward movement to slaughter. This new facility will allow several CFUs to bid on-line for the animals concerned. Only weanlings, i.e., calves greater than 12 weeks of age, and store cattle will be permitted to be sold at such auctions. It is expected that this facility will be available from end-October 2023. The sale of cows will not be facilitated. Restricted herds and CFUs interested in participating should contact their local mart and Regional Veterinary Office.

The Minister stated

“I am acutely aware of the burden a TB restriction places on farm families and I am hopeful that this new arrangement will help to alleviate some of the burden associated with having to keep more stock than required on a TB restricted holding. It may also help introduce an element of competition in the market for these animals.”