The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has claimed that farmer anger with the Department of Agriculture’s TB eradication programme is growing as the disease continues to spread in cattle populations.
The association’s animal health chair TJ Maher took aim at alleged funding and staffing shortfalls with elements of the eradication programme, such as wildlife control.
He called for these resourcing shortfalls to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Maher’s comments come after the Irish Farmers Journal revealed that the Department’s scientific working group advised the TB forum that a regional approach BE taken to tackle TB, a move which could pose difficulties for the cattle trade.
The Department’s proposal of TB risk areas and the introduction of regional measures amount to nothing more than an attempt to deflect attention away from these alleged failures, according to Maher.
“It is infuriating to farmers when they hear the Minister talk about difficult decisions and threaten more controls when he and his Department are failing to implement the current programme in a cohesive and effective manner throughout the country,” he claimed.
“We were continually told how well the wildlife programme was being implemented since it commenced in 2002, yet when the Department finally agreed to resurvey capture areas, an additional 3,000 sets were identified within existing capture areas in the first few months of resurveying.”
Maher stated that Department officials ignored badger setts within capture areas and that these activities were signed off by senior officials responsible for administering the programme.
“Farmers have never been shy about taking hard decisions, we do this every day on our farms and when taken we implement them,” the animal health chair continued.
“Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Department of Agriculture. Key decisions have been taken over the past four years in the TB forum and commitments given by the Minister, but we have yet to see these on the ground, in particular staffing and implementation of the wildlife programme.”