Bluetongue cases in Germany reach 50
The Department of Agriculture is testing animals imported from certain countries for bluetongue.

German authorities have reported a total of 50 outbreaks of bluetongue since the start of the year. Italy, Greece and Spain have also reported outbreaks this year, while France has not yet reported any in 2019. Last year, there were a total of 666 outbreaks reported in France and the country remains restricted for BTV 8 and 4.

Belgium reported an outbreak of Bluetongue serotype 8 on 27 March this year, the first one in the country since December 2008.

A total of eight animals were affected in a susceptible population of 785. Control measures are now in place for the whole of Belgium.

The Department takes a risk-based approach to import testing of ruminant animals coming in from affected countries. All ruminant animals originating from Belgium are being tested when they arrive in Ireland.

The advice to herd owners is:

  • Do not import ruminant animals from bluetongue restricted areas unless absolutely necessary.
  • Contact your Regional Veterinary Office for advice if you are considering importing animals.
  • Seek additional assurances to ensure that animals are not infected with BTV prior to departure, such as a recent negative test for bluetongue carried out in an accredited laboratory.
  • On arrival, keep any imported animals isolated and indoors until they have been tested for BTV by staff from the Department and have returned a negative test result.
  • Follow biosecurity guidelines before making any decision to import.
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    Shed and hills on fire as dry conditions heighten risk
    A series of blazes has hit agricultural land and buildings and a status orange warning remains in place.

    Fire brigades from Carrickmacross and Castleblayney attended a hay barn fire on Saturday night in Co Monaghan.

    Meanwhile, crews in counties Dublin and Wicklow battled several gorse fires in the hills along the border between the two counties in the past two days.

    Wicklow Fire Service reported gorse fires at Clogga, near Roundstone on Friday, and at Ballyfolan in the Kippure valley on Saturday.

    Dublin Fire Brigade tackled a number of brush fires along the southern edge of the city, including a gorse wildfire near the Hellfire club on Saturday.

    These incidents follow a large gorse fire in Annagry, Co Donegal on Friday, which destroyed two houses in the area.

    Firefighters have urged members of the public to be vigilant when out in the countryside this Easter weekend as dry, warm weather conditions continue to pose a fire risk. The Department of Agriculture has issued a status orange forest fire warning valid until Tuesday.

    "Most recent fire incidents appear to have taken place on lands associated with turf cutting, but additional risks may also exist on areas commonly used for public recreation," the Department warned.

    Controlled burning of vegetation on agricultural land is not permitted until 31 August.

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    Casey calls for increased CAP budget
    Additional requirements on farmers and inflation should be covered by EU payments, while a Brexit package should include targeted producer support, candidate for MEP Peter Casey has said.

    Independent European election candidate Peter Casey has said he would fight for a larger budget for the next CAP if he is elected MEP next month.

    “The CAP budget must be increased to account for inflation and to compensate our farmers for any additional requirements imposed on them by the newly reformed policy,” Casey said in a statement this Sunday.

    Outgoing MEPs on both the agriculture and budget committees have already passed motions in favour of an increased CAP budget after 2020. The level of funding now depends on contributions agreed by national governments in all EU member states.

    Brexit package

    The Midlands North-West candidate has also called for direct aid in case of a hard Brexit including emergency EU market disturbance supports, targeted direct producer payments, long-term structural adjustment support and the setting-aside of State aid limits.

    “Should we find ourselves in a no-deal Brexit situation, there must be provision for an immediate EU aid package to support our farmers and safeguard the presence of their produce on UK shelves. It is also important that any EU aid takes account for currency devaluations arising from a weakened pound,” Casey said.

    He will be among candidates taking part in the first of a series of husting organised by the IFA on Wednesday in Claremorris, Co Mayo.

    Click here for a list of all other candidates in the European election.

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    Continued rise in non-fatal accidents involving livestock
    Due to the majority of farmers being self-employed or sole traders, there is widespread under-reporting of serious non-fatal accidents on farms.

    There has been a steady rise in the number of non-fatal accidents involving livestock over the last 20 years, according to figures from the annual Teagasc National Farm Survey.

    In 1996, livestock were involved in 23% of all non-fatal accidents.

    The latest figures show livestock now accounts for 43% of all such accidents.

    Rise in accidents

    Minister of State for Trade, Business and Employment Pat Breen said the rise in accidents relating to livestock was largely in line with expansion in the agriculture sector and the significant increases in dairy and beef numbers.

    Responding to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy, the minister said work was continuing with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) to encourage safe livestock management.

    Under-reporting

    Figures would indicate there is widespread under-reporting of non-fatal accidents involving livestock.

    On average, 100 non-fatal accidents in the agriculture sector are reported to the HSA annually.

    In comparison, figures from the annual farm survey indicate there are between 2,500 and 3,000 serious non-fatal accidents on farms each year.

    Minister Breen said the sector was predominantly made up of self-employed and sole traders, who “unfortunately do not always report their accidents or injuries to the HSA”.

    It is a requirement for all workplaces, regardless of size, enterprise or sector, to report accidents which result in an absence and the prevention of an employee from performing their normal work for more than three consecutive days.

    Fatal accidents

    When it comes to fatal accidents, livestock account for 16% of all deaths in the agriculture sector.

    In 2018, five people were killed following incidents with livestock.

    Cows and heifers are by far the most dangerous category of livestock.

    They were involved in over half of fatal accidents, which mainly occurred during the calving period.

    Bulls represent 15% of livestock deaths, while horses account for a further 10%.

    Previous HSA inspection campaigns indicate that livestock handling facilities are generally good, with the risks of injury arising when handling facilities are either not used or not used properly.

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