The Department of Agriculture’s badger BCG vaccination programme saw 3,004 badgers vaccinated in 2020, figures included in the Department’s 2020 annual report have shown.

This was an increase of over 1,500 badgers vaccinated by the Department in the previous year.

A further 4,723 badgers were removed in the Department’s TB eradication programme last year, with 2,917 new setts recorded around the country.

These TB eradication actions were taken in a period where testing identified an increased number of reactors in herds nationwide, a trend which has continued into 2021.

2020’s badger removal represents a reduction on the 5,352 badgers culled as part of the programme in 2019.

This reduction had been forecast by the Department in 2019’s report, with officials basing their predictions on the expansion of the vaccination programme.

The total area covered in the vaccination programme was 19,079km2 at the time of the programme’s completion last year.

Funding cuts

As previously reported in the Irish Farmers Journal, the EU is expected to reduce the funding provided through CAP co-financing mechanisms for 2020’s TB eradication programme.

The expected cuts will reduce EU funding to amounts totalling €5.42m, down from the €7.4m in funds drawn down in 2019.

The payment has yet to be made to the national Exchequer as the co-financing payment for disease control efforts are made a year in arrears.

This reduction has been made primarily due to the co-financing criteria which penalise increasing incidences of the disease. The penalty is expected to represent a 20% cut to the co-financing payment.

“Consistent downward pressure is being exerted on TB programme funding available from the EU, reflecting competing demands for resources across the CAP and the emergence of other diseases that require co-funding support,” the Department report said.

The Department also reported that no cases of bovine brucellosis had been identified in 2020.