The Department of Agriculture has suspended routine on-farm visits for the next two weeks, except where the visit is required on a risk basis.

In a statement, the Department announced essential services such as disease control or reactor removal would continue. It added that this will be kept under review as the situation evolves.

TB tests are continuing but farmers have the option to defer them if they have contracted COVID-19, are self-isolating or are part of a vulnerable group. In Northern Ireland, all TB tests have been suspended as of this morning.

Some inspections, such as those for the young farmer scheme, are being conducted by phone. Around 400 young farmers are selected for inspection under the scheme annually, with an on-farm interview a significant portion of the process.

Contingency planning

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said his Department is in daily contact with all sector stakeholders to share contingency planning and address issues as they arise.

The minister appealed to farmers to keep farm safety as a priority and that any farmer experiencing difficulties should not hesitate to ask for help.

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