Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) animal health chair TJ Maher has called on Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to confirm his intention to honour the long-standing agreement on TB testing by announcing his intention to cover the 30-day pre- and post-movement test.
This new testing rule is due to come into effect on Wednesday 1 February.
Failure to clarify the position in relation to payment for this testing requirement would undermine all the work to date in the TB financial working group, Maher has said.
Maher said an agreement reached in the 1990s, which has never been on the table for discussion in this process, was that farmers will pay for one herd test a year, at no shorter interval than 10 months.
The Department of Agriculture is liable for payment for all other legislatively required TB tests on farms.
This new test, Maher argued, is a legislatively required test through the new EU animal health law (AHL) and, therefore, is covered by the existing agreement.
"Huge progress has been achieved in minimising the impact of this test in the trading of animals with effectively only cows moving to herds for further breeding and male animals over 36 months moved to farms for breeding likely to require either a pre- or post-movement test when these animals are over six months tested and from herds over six months since their last TB test.
We have taken a fair and reasonable approach to all discussions
“The IFA came to the TB forum table with a genuine aspiration to make positive progress in reducing the TB levels, while also reducing the burden of controls on farmers.
"We have taken a fair and reasonable approach to all discussions and difficult decisions have been made along the way.
"Farmers have taken on board additional controls on their farms, tightened controls around higher-risk practices and have committed to increased funding towards improved financial support schemes.
"We want to drive forward with reducing the levels of TB, which will require more difficult decisions that will impact directly on our farms,” he said.
However, if the Minister seeks to ignore this long-standing agreement on payment for TB testing, then farmers cannot be expected to continue in good faith on this journey, Maher argued.
“While progress was being made in discussions on the TB programme and implementation of the EU AHL within the new TB forum structure, the issue of payment for this testing requirement has stalled any further progress from being possible," he said.
Farmers are looking for confirmation that the Department will be paying for this test in order to ensure the positive and proactive engagement that has taken place between farmers and his officials continue as we collectively strive to reduce TB levels, he concluded.