Co Down dairy farmer John Carson, who farms alongside his son Jonathan outside Downpatrick, told the Irish Farmers Journal that he is disappointed that the DAERA TB eradication plan is still reliant on an outdated skin test.

The Carson family are well placed to talk about the impact of TB, having lost their entire milking herd of over 120 cows at the end of 2020.

“I was looking for something different. Quite simply the current test is no use. It is only 70 – 80% accurate, so it leaves behind reactors. We need to invest in science to find a better approach,” Carson said.

He believes that badgers need to be dealt with “in a meaningful way”, and is critical of the plans to cut payments for reactor animals, which he fears will drive a wedge between farmers, DAERA valuation staff and private vets.

People have no idea the sort of pressure that it puts on the whole family

“I would also take issue with those who refer to it as compensation. It is a stock value, there is no compensation for our lost income,” he said.

While the Carson family are now back milking cows, John is clear that they could not go through the experience again.

“People have no idea the sort of pressure that it puts on the whole family.

“It was mentally, emotionally and physically draining. The hardest part was the quietness when you went into the yard. The whole thing was torture,” he concluded.

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