The latest TB figures from the Department of Agriculture mark little progress on Irish farmers’ fight against the disease.
Although headway has been made in some areas, ultimately some 22,326 reactors were discovered in the first quarter of this year – 4,107 more reactors than the same period the previous year.
TB blackspot areas are still experiencing significantly high incidences of the disease.
West Wicklow still has the highest 12-month rolling incidence rate at 15.43%.
Other long-standing blackspot areas such as north Cork has an incidence rate of 7.77%, while Meath has 7.31% and Monaghan has 6.48%. The national average is 4.19%, which is still significantly higher than the 3.27% rate in 2016.
The increase in reactors in quarter one meant there was a 37% increase in compensation paid to farmers – a total of €1.58m.
Valuer fees also increased by 41% to €166,000 and vet fees remained roughly the same at €2.5m.
Perhaps surprisingly, funds that were going into the research of TB dropped by 39%, down to €525,000, but overall costs rose by 14% to €13.72m.
Official TB figures recorded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland (NI) are presented on a slightly different basis to the Republic of Ireland, so they are not directly comparable.
Over the last 12 months herd incidence (defined in Northern Ireland as the number of new reactor herds as a proportion of those tested) stands at 8.32%, one of the highest rates recorded in NI over the last 20 years.
In the first three months of 2021, there was a total of 461 new reactor herds. Once other herds already under TB restriction are added in, 822 herds had at least one reactor at a TB test.
Over the same three-month period, 3,192 reactors have been removed at a TB test, which is down slightly on the equivalent figure of 3,450 from 2020.