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15 February 2018 12:43:27 |Animal Health,Cattle,News

Tackling TB in wildlife 'top priority' in ridding Northern Ireland of disease

The countryside "can no longer be held to ransom" by the disease, the UFU said

The countryside "can no longer be held to ransom" by the disease, the UFU said

Tackling TB in wildlife must be a "top priority" in ridding Northern Ireland of the devastating disease, according to the local farming industry.
"Radical and ground-breaking" thinking is needed on all sides to rid Northern Ireland of bovine TB, according to the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU).
The call for the new approach by the UFU was made after a lengthy consultation on the devolved government's proposals to tackle the disease.
The consultation was around a Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs' (DAERA) plan to implement some of the recommendations of the TB Strategic Partnership Group.
UFU president, Barclay Bell said farmers were ready to back some of the thinking, but not all.
“TB has plagued the countryside for over 60 years and we are no closer towards eradication. This is despite huge efforts by industry and government to control it and costing both farmers and taxpayers millions of pounds annually,” Mr Bell said.

“Incidences of bovine TB have reached their highest level in ten years and farmers are beyond frustration. Something has to change.”
TB in wildlife
While there was a range of views on the ways ahead, one message from UFU members across Northern Ireland was that tackling TB in wildlife must be a "top priority".
“Tackling TB in wildlife, the other major element of the continuation of this disease, must be a top priority - and it must be done in a meaningful and robust way,” Mr Bell added.
“We cannot accept any changes on compensation or testing when DAERA is only taking tough action on one side of the TB equation.”
In its consultation response, the UFU has suggested the establishment of a compulsory levy, controlled by farmers and held by an industry body such as Animal Health and Welfare NI.
It says this would help to address bovine TB, with the initial focus specifically on tackling TB in the wildlife reservoir.

“We believe this is the fairest and fastest way to see action where it is needed,” said Mr Bell adding, “Everyone’s ultimate goal is to have healthy cattle and healthy wildlife. All our members are in agreement that radical and ground-breaking measures are required on all sides.
“The countryside can no longer be held to ransom by this disease.”


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