ICSA animal health and welfare chair Hugh Farrell has rejected comments made by Department of Agriculture officials in defence of their decision to issue farmers with TB herd history risk statements.

Department officials defended their decision to issue the letters during an Oireachtas committee hearing on the TB eradication programme Tuesday 9 March.

The officials referenced an interim report, Bovine TB Stakeholder Forum Interim Report – Disease Policy and Working in Partnership, published in July 2019.

This report states: “When farmers have a breakdown, the notification sent to them by DAFM could be amended to include a summary of their bTB history and of inward movements into their herd in the previous five years.”

Dubious actions

Farrell maintains there was no agreement that these letters should be sent out in the manner in which they were sent.

“The passage refers to reactor packs which indicates that this type of letter could be used as part of an overall response to a TB breakdown. It in no way implies that this type of letter would be sent out to all farmers.

“The reality is that these letters were a product of farmer representatives being ignored, while Department officials drove on with dubious actions such as explicit herd categorisation which had been categorically rejected at the TB Forum.”