The absence of an Executive at Stormont will affect the progress of a new bovine TB strategy for NI, Minister for Agriculture Edwin Poots has said.
Proposals for a new approach to TB eradication were published by DAERA in July 2021 as part of a public consultation process.
It included the department’s preferred option for wildlife intervention, namely controlled shooting of free-roaming badgers in TB hotspot areas.
DAERA also proposed cutting compensation payments to 90% of a reactor animal’s market value for a 12-month period, with rates cut to 75% thereafter, and capping compensation at £5,000 per animal.
The Executive has not been able to meet since DUP politician Paul Givan resigned as First Minister in early February
In response to a written question from East Belfast MLA Andy Allen, Minister Poots confirmed that “decisions that are impacted by the absence of an Executive” include the long-awaited TB strategy.
The Executive has not been able to meet since DUP politician Paul Givan resigned as First Minister in early February.
There are also concerns that a potential political stalemate after the upcoming Assembly election in May could see decisions around the TB strategy delayed further.
Other issues affected by the collapse of the Executive include DAERA’s new Green Growth strategy, an environment strategy, and a NI food framework policy.
This is a complex piece of work
On enquiry, a DAERA spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal that officials “are working at pace” to finalise the new TB strategy and it remains one of the department’s “top priorities”.
“This is a complex piece of work reflecting the multi-faceted nature of the disease, the measures required to address it and the long-term nature of the strategy which will focus on finally setting the NI cattle herd on the path to eradication,” the DAERA spokesperson said.