IFA animal health chair TJ Maher has criticised the new EU regulations requiring animals moving from farm-to-farm or through the marts to be tested within a certain time frame.

He said: “Initially, the requirements of the new regulations were to come into play in January 2022, on all animals moving without a TB test in the previous six months and without a herd test within the previous six months.”

“Following prolonged negotiations, significant progress has been made and the impact the regulation has on trade has been substantially reduced to focus on higher risk animals only – cows and males over 36 months of age,” he said.

The animal health chair added: “Payment of the additional testing is a red line issue for us and the longstanding position of the IFA animal health committee is that farmers only pay for one annual TB test per year. Any other additional statutory testing obligations or TB control programme requirements must be paid for by the Department. This position has not changed.”

“The Financial Working Group of the TB Forum has not agreed on the payment of the additional testing requirements and the implementation of the regulation has been deferred until February 2023. The IFA policy is clear that until there is an agreement within the Financial Working Group, the regulation must not be implemented,” Maher said.

Lack of action on Nitrates Action Plan is disrespectful

The lack of engagement and information from the Department of Agriculture on the impending changes that will affect many farmers, specifically those in derogation, due to the new Nitrates Action Plan is disrespectful, according to IFA dairy chair Stephen Arthur.

“I am meeting farmers all around the country, both at IFA-organised information events and informally, and most are totally unaware of the changes that will happen in the next few months that may have a detrimental effect on their ability to remain viable,” he said.

“The new banding regime will come in on January 1 2023, but many have no idea how exactly this will be calculated. This change could mean a significant reduction in stock numbers on some farms. The Department must take responsibility here to engage with and inform all farmers on what is coming in only four months’ time.”

IFA national environmental chair Paul O’Brien said due to the raft of new measures, many farmers, not only those in dairy, will be affected by this Nitrates Action Plan.

“It is very disappointing that the Department of Agriculture has to-date not organised to meet farmers to inform them on exactly what is involved. I am encouraging the Department to organise information meetings as soon as possible, as would have happened prior to COVID-19 restrictions. These are required so farmers are fully aware of all changes and to ensure they do not fall foul of these new regulations,” Arthur concluded.