Significant concessions on TB testing have been agreed following discussions between the IFA and the Department of Agriculture, the Irish Farmers Journal understands.

This includes an extension on the age of the exemption from testing for calves from 42 days to 120 days.

Farmers will be able to trade calves within the country up to this age without a test requirement. There is no change in the testing requirement for calves going for export.

IFA animal health chair Pat Farrell said: “Maintaining trade and the ability to trade for the maximum number of farmers in the current crisis is essential. TB testing is a key element of this as current trade rules dictate.”

Over-70 concession

In addition, there are concessions for farmers who are unable to carry out a TB test because they develop Covid-19 or are aged over 70 years and do not have anyone else to carry out the test on their behalf. These farmers can notify their Regional Veterinary Office of their situation and the range of normal sanctions will not be applied.

The Irish Farmers Journal understands they will also be given a period of 28 days after the test due date in which they can trade before their herd is locked up.

The move comes after all testing was stopped in Northern Ireland on Tuesday. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland updated its position on TB testing, confirming that all testing should now cease, unless in exceptional circumstances.

Last week, DAERA relaxed testing rules in NI, effectively stating that no farmer would be forced to undertake a TB test, and if a test is overdue, no financial penalties would apply. Farmers would also still be able to send cattle to slaughter.

Further details to follow.

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