UFU hits out at ‘unsympathetic’ DAERA

DAERA staff have been accused of being “unsympathetic” and “unreasonable” with farmers that have bovine TB outbreaks.

The leadership of the UFU took aim at the department’s approach at an online event for members in Co Derry on Tuesday evening. The example was given of a farmer who had his dairy herd reduce from 70 cows to 18 cows due to a serious TB outbreak.

“That man was treated abysmally by the department staff. He did receive an apology, but it took too long and he received too much heartache over their thoughtlessness and mismanagement,” said UFU deputy president William Irvine.

“It really rails me to hear the department say ‘we need to do this to change farmer attitudes’. It’s as if farmers love TB and aren’t a bit worried about it,” added UFU president Victor Chestnutt.

Meat factories want COVID-19 vaccine for staff

Meat processors in NI are pressing for their staff to be prioritised in the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The NI Meat Exporters’ Association wrote to Stormont’s agriculture committee on the issue and MLAs agreed to support the proposal.

The letter has been forwarded to Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots for it to be raised with Health Minister Robin Swann and the rest of the NI Executive.

Meanwhile, the Foyle Food Group’s site Lisahally site is operational again after temporarily closing due to a COVID-19 outbreak among staff.

EFS higher agreements issued to applicants

DAERA are planning to issue approximately 160 higher level agreements and 370 wider level agreements under the fourth tranche of the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS).

It appears that all eligible wider level applicants have been accepted, but less than 20% of the 966 higher level applications have reached the agreement stage.

The agreements will be issued from this week onwards, with the process set to continue into January. Offers will be made through DAERA online services and cannot be changed at this stage. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EFS participants in the fourth tranche have an extra seven months to complete their agreed measures, with the deadline extended to 31 December 2021.

Stop posting tag samples over Christmas

Tissue tag samples should not be sent for BVD testing after Friday (18 December) due to laboratory closure and seasonal pressure on the postal service.

Animal Health and Welfare NI, the body that runs the BVD eradication scheme in NI, recommends keeping samples in a fridge until their office re-opens on 4 January.