Live on-farm valuations for animals identified as TB reactors could be phased out after an independent report recommended they be replaced with an automated process.
Grant Thornton was commissioned to carry out a review of the On-Farm Market Valuation Scheme (OFMV), which provided over €14m in compensation to farmers affected by TB breakdowns in 2020.
The most significant recommendation was that the process of valuers conducting subjective on-farm assessments should be replaced with computer-generated figures from a database of market prices.
The report authors identified live on-farm valuations as the largest single factor in delaying the removal of TB reactors from farms.
“The OFMV process averages just under 20 days from identification of a suspected reactor to the slaughter of the animal and, of that, 12 days are related to processing, generating and accepting a valuation,” the report states.
“While this period is well within the EU’s 30 days’ guidance and each individual step is completed within the Department’s own guide timelines, the process is almost twice as long as the equivalent in England.”
The key difference in England is that there is no live on-farm valuation, with an automated table-based process used instead.
If such a system were to be adopted in Ireland, the report recommends that live valuations remain an option for herdowners with animals where limited data is available, such as pedigree cattle.
In addition to the time saved, the approach would largely remove the need for valuers, which would go some way towards addressing concerns around independence and undue influence, it says.
At the very least, farmers should be offered the choice of an automated process as the majority of valuations are conducted on small outbreaks with low numbers of animals affected, the report says.
Other recommendations include the phasing out of an EBI-based top-up and improving the transparency of the database used to generate prices.