A €22.50/hd charge for removing TB reactors from herds and the abolition of independent valuations are among a raft of changes proposed by the Department of Agriculture for the TB eradication scheme.
Independent valuations would be abolished in cases where there is only one reactor in the herd.
The proposals were tabled 'for discussion' by Department officials at a meeting with the farm organisations last week.
The talks were called to identify how the TB eradication scheme costs could be trimmed.
The proposals tabled included suggestions that:
1.Passports would no longer be taken up from restricted herds and the test dates would no longer be inserted on passports;
2.The practice of stamping passports "for slaughter only" in the case of certain restricted herds would be discontinued;
3.Passports would no longer be collected from herds which were being restricted due to factory lesions;
4.The practice of issuing movement permits for 'clear' cattle in reactor herds would be discontinued;
5.Technical staff would no longer visit breakdowns with one reactor unless deemed necessary;
6.On-farm valuations would be confined to breakdowns of two reactors or more;
7.The Department would examine electronic means of obtaining weekly prices for non-breeding cattle;
8.The Department would introduce a charge of €22.50/hd for the collection of reactors;
9.The refund of the disease levies, inspection fees in the case of reactors would be discontinued.
Reacting to the proposals, ICMSA deputy president Pat McCormack said the changes would impose additional costs on those farmers unfortunate enough to have TB reactors in their herds.
"At the meeting, the Department informed ICMSA that they intend to introduce a charge of €22.50 per head for the removal of reactors and that they also intend to charge the normal levies on these cattle, which up to now has not been the case.
These decisions are simply not acceptable given that -- in the case of reactors -- it is a forced removal of stock and farmers simply cannot be expected to carry these additional costs," Mr McCormack said.
"ICMSA is also opposed to the proposal to discontinue the practice of recording the TB test result on the blue card.
"This is a hugely valuable piece of information for farmers who are both selling and buying cattle and it would be a seriously retrograde step to discontinue this practice," he added.
Meanwhile, the proposal to abolish independent valuations of infected cattle where there was only one reactor was described as "unacceptable" by John Barron of the ICSA.
"Independent valuation of all reactors is a core principle of the TB eradication scheme which farmers fought hard to secure. It simply cannot be eroded in any way," Mr Barron said.
"I also have a serious problem with the idea that farmers would face a new, additional charge of €22.50 per head for the collection of reactors, which the Department says is equivalent to half the cost to them of the transport of the animals," he said.
- Declan O'Brien
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