Opposition to EU proposals on TB movement testing

Due to the current level of TB testing in Northern Ireland, movement testing would only be beneficial in a small number of cases, farmers say
Due to the current level of TB testing in Northern Ireland, movement testing would only be beneficial in a small number of cases, farmers say

Opposition in the UK is growing to an EU proposal to introduce movement testing for TB on all cattle that are over six months from their previous test date.

The EU launched a consultation on the new Animal Health Law Delegated regulation which covers animal disease notification, reporting, surveillance, eradication and disease-free status.

But farmers in Northern Ireland fear that there are a number of proposals in the consultation that, if adopted, could damage the local livestock industry.

The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) said it wants to see legislation that 'effectively supports' the eradication of disease within an industry that is 'productive and profitable'.



UFU deputy president, David Brown said: “We are not alone in our assessment and would encourage the EU Commission to work with stakeholders to revise the proposals.”

The UFU said movement testing for TB has already been considered in Northern Ireland by the TB Strategic Partnership and was found to be of limited benefit.



Mr Brown added: “Due to the current level of TB testing in Northern Ireland, movement testing would only be beneficial in a small number of cases.

“It would be more effective to use available resources to enhance detection of infection, reduce the risk of residual infection in herds, and target infection in the local wildlife reservoir.”

He added that the union is also concerned about proposals relating to herd restrictions.

“Under the current EU proposals, some herds may find themselves slipping into a situation where they are restricted for 12 months. This would be particularly devastating for smaller suckler herds in Northern Ireland.

“In many cases, these farmers lack winter accommodation and silage reserves so sell stock in the winter months to larger finishing units.

“If they were facing a herd restriction and unable to sell animals for 12 months this would be a significant blow. It would cut off a major market route, leading to potential animal welfare issues, mental stress and cash flow problems,” he said.

The UFU is continuing to work with farming unions in the UK and politicians to seek amendments to the EU proposals.