IFA Animal Health chairman Bert Stewart has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to remove the last remaining costs for farmers associated with Brucellosis. He said the announcement is in line with the changes sought by IFA and represent direct savings of in excess of €6m annually for farmers.
Ceasing annual herd monitoring in the remaining 20% of herds from the 1st January will return immediate savings to farmers and discontinuing the pre-movement test for all females and bulls over 24 months of age when Northern Ireland achieve free status early next year removes the last trade prohibitive measure for these animals. The removal of the 60 pre-movement test will allow farmers utilise the mart more as an alternative outlet for forward store and finished heifers in particular without incurring the costs of pre-movement testing, this will provide important price competition and will be of major benefit to marts.
Bert Stewart said the phased approach adopted since achieving Brucellosis free status in 2009 was prudent and correct while the disease remained in Northern Ireland. However, with the Northern authorities on track to achieve free status in early 2015 it is timely to remove the final cost burden and trade prohibitive measures for farmers.
He said it is important that Northern Ireland continues towards and achieves Brucellosis-free status and in this regard every effort must be made to ensure the authorities in the North achieve this objective.
Bert Stewart said farmers have invested substantial resources in achieving Brucellosis eradication through testing costs, animal and income loss and compliance with movement restrictions. The Department of Agriculture has also invested heavily over the years in ensuring the programme achieved its objective. This cost is now being removed over the course of the coming year and is recognition of the role farmers and the Department of Agriculture played in achieving a successful outcome to a disease that has caused untold hardship for farm families throughout the country.