Farmers should only pay for one TB test a year and any additional testing required under EU animal health laws should be funded by the Department of Agriculture, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) has reiterated.

On the regulations, ICSA animal health and welfare chair Hugh Farrell also insisted that farmers are entitled to sell cattle in marts without pre-tests, regardless of whether their herd was tested in the past six months.

“In the case of any animal for finishing, such as a cull cow, testing is not compulsory for either seller or buyer.

“This is because the animal will end up going for slaughter anyway when finished. The issue only arises in the case of an animal that is being bought for breeding purposes, such as an in-calf cow or a breeding bull.

“In these cases, the seller may choose to test, but it is not compulsory. The buyer will have to test those animals,” he said.

Not agreed

Ultimately, Farrell warned that pre- or post-movement testing rules for breeding cattle have not been agreed to by farm organisations.

He said that after a long battle, most cattle sold in marts will not be affected by these changes.

“While [the] ICSA does not want to accept any additional burden on farmers in terms of testing, the reality is that the EU animal health law has tied our hands.

“After months of talks, the movement testing of cattle has been pushed back to cover only breeding animals in essence, coming from herds that are more than six months from their herd test.

“In recent weeks, there has been heavy negotiations on payment for any testing and the ICSA position is very clear,” he said.

The animal health chair said the ICSA is “standing steadfast to its position that the Department must pay for the additional testing”.