TB reactors up 12% in 2021

The number of reactor animals at a TB test was up nearly 12% in 2021 to total 14,355 head, figures published by DAERA show.

It is the largest number of reactor animals slaughtered since 2018, when 15,330 reactors were removed.

The latest figures for January 2022, show that a further 1,310 cattle were reactors at a TB test, with 168 new herd breakdowns recorded. A total of 322 herds had at least one reactor at a TB test.

The current herd incidence (the number of new reactor herds as a proportion of the total herds tested) over the last 12 months stands at 8.83%, up from 8.34% over the previous 12-month period.

EU to reduce environmental permit threshold

Dairy and beef farms with 150 cows or more may need to hold environmental permits in future, the European Commission has proposed.

Pig and poultry farms with over 300 sows or almost 11,000 layers could also need such a permit under the proposal, which falls under the EU’s industrial emissions directive. At present in NI, pig farms with over 750 sows or poultry units with more than 40,000 bird places must have an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) permit to operate.

An earlier draft of the EU proposal had suggested farms with over 100 livestock units (over 100 cows) would need permits, but this has been increased to 150.

Despite that change, the proposals have been criticised by farm lobby organisations in the Republic of Ireland, with Irish Farmers Association (IFA) president Tim Cullinan describing it as “outrageous” to be including grazing livestock in the scope of the directive. “The proposal needs to be binned,” he said.

ARC Zero farm walk

Hugh Harbinson, who along with his father Thompson milks 180 cows at Aghadowey, near Coleraine, will host the first of a number of farm walks planned over coming months on farms participating in the ARC Zero (Accelerating Ruminant farming towards Carbon Zero) project. The project, led by Professor John Gilliland from Devenish, involves seven farms investigating practical ways to measure, manage and reduce carbon. Speakers at the event on Wednesday 27 April include experts from Queen’s University, AFBI and CAFRE. Farm walks will leave at half hourly intervals from 10.30am to 12.30pm. Pre-registration is required and can be done via www.arczeroni.org.

NIFDA hit out at red diesel changes

The executive director of the NI Food and Drink Association (NIFDA), Michael Bell, has warned that new restrictions on the use of red diesel will lead to significantly increased costs for chilled and frozen transport and effectively amount to a “tax on food”.

“This is not about the government making the food supply chain more sustainable. There is no difference in terms of environmental impact between red or white diesel,” pointed out Bell.

He said that pressing ahead with the change will have “devastating consequences” for consumers already experiencing a cost of living crisis, and that NIFDA will continue to press the UK government “to see sense” on the issue.

Vintage working day at Desertmartin

Bradley’s Corner Vintage Tractor Run is hosting a vintage working day on Saturday 16 April from 10am at the Evans Farm, Ballynagowan Rd, Desertmartin.

The event will involve machines ploughing, grubbing, discing etc.

All money raised will go towards the F.A.C.T.S autism support group.

For more information and to register call 07928928270.

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