The actual costs of running the State’s TB eradication programme is almost double the Department of Agriculture’s quarterly reported direct costs, new figures supplied to the Irish Farmers Journal show.

The direct costs of the programme reported by the Department for 2023 came to just over €74m, up from €57m the previous year.

However, when farmer TB testing costs and an estimate for the Department’s TB staffing bill are included, this figure soars above €137m.

Farmer TB testing costs came to over €35m last year and the last available staffing estimate from the Department put personnel and administration costs at another €28.5m.

Cattle transport

Further on-farm costs are not included in these estimates, which may be incurred when TB testing, such as labour and cattle transport costs.

This Department TB staffing cost was estimated in 2020 on foot of survey carried out two years’ previous, which had found that 620 personnel allocate at least some of their time to the programme.

No such survey has been carried out since and there is no official up-to-date cost figure for the manpower required by the Department’s TB wing.

Higher public sector pay and rising levels of the disease since 2018 may have increased staff costs beyond the four-year old cost estimate last reported.