Proposals to cut stock valuations for TB reactor cattle have been slammed by the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU).

This is in response to recent communication by Northern Ireland (NI) Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris, instructing DAERA to publish official proposals.

As predicted, this has not been well received by farmer representatives. UFU deputy president John McLenaghan has highlighted how “farmers won’t tolerate any reduction in payments”.

McLenaghan hit out at how the potential cuts could affect farmers financially.

Financial burden

“Members already carry a significant financial burden when the disease comes to their herd,” he said.

He maintains it is not the responsibility of farmers to “help stabilise public finances”.

The UFU views that it would be more beneficial for farmers for DAERA to tackle the disease itself “which in turn would reduce the cost”.

DAERA has been heavily criticised by the UFU for its “inaction” and doing a “U-turn on some of the measures that they were meant to put in place”.

McLenaghan also outlined the seriousness of TB incidence. Currently, this is “at a record high because of DAERA’s inability to implement an effective eradication strategy which has been ongoing for generations”.

Barbaric proposals

He emphasised that the UFU remains firm in its stance to defend members against the “barbaric proposals” from government.

The deputy president reiterated that affected stock are “the property of our farmers” and “are not a public good that can be devalued to make up a budget deficit”.

“To consider devaluing cattle’s worth after the animals have fallen victim to a disease that has become rampant in our region because of our department is nothing short of theft,” he said.

McLenaghan also referred to the mental health of farmers who will suffer as a result.

“Instead of hitting farmers when they are already down, suffering mentally and financially, it would be much more effective for DAERA to prioritise tackling the disease itself,” he said.