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Minister Coveney announces changes to the TB Eradication Scheme

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD, today announced very significant changes to the TB eradication scheme.

Announcing these changes, the Minister said that they were designed to extract maximum value from the investment which his Department has made in recent years in IT and, in particular, to reduce the administrative burden of the TB eradication scheme on farmers. The changes would also effect significant savings both in direct costs and staffing resources for his Department in implementing this scheme. The main changes can be summarized as follows:

(i) Passports will no longer be taken up from restricted herds and retained in DVO for the duration of the restriction period.

(ii) The test dates will continue to be stamped on the passports but, in order to reduce the number of passports required to be replaced, the test date can be stamped on any of the spaces on the passport.

(iii) The practice of issuing movement permits for ‘clear’ cattle in reactor herds going direct to slaughter will be discontinued. Herdowners will be free to move such cattle direct to slaughter as they wish.

(iv) Department staff will no longer visit breakdowns with 1 reactor unless deemed necessary by the DVO.

(v) The Department will continue to examine electronic means of obtaining weekly prices for non-breeding cattle.

(vi) The Department will no longer refund the disease levies etc in respect of reactors.

Commenting on these changes, which he said are being introduced following consultation with the farming organizations, Minister Coveney said that it was now possible to remove the documentary controls, such as passports and movement permits, on movements out of restricted herds because, following the integration of the AHCS and AIM computer systems, his Department can effectively manage and restrict the movement of cattle through the computer controls on cattle movements provided for in these systems. The position is that restricted herds are identified as such by the AIM system and the controls on the system ensure that it is not possible for a herdowner legally to move cattle from a restricted holding to another farm, or mart or for export. If a herdowner attempts to move an animal from a restricted herd to a mart, the AIM system (which is linked to the mart) will ‘flag’ the animal as coming from a restricted herd and will ‘reject’ the animal at the mart, making it impossible for the animal to be sold. With regard to farm to farm movements, the AIM system requires that all such movements to be subject to the issue of a ‘Compliance Cert’ issued by the system and, if the animal is located in a restricted herd, the system will not generate the ‘Compliance Cert’, thereby preventing the movement.

The Minister said that he was pleased to be in a position to lighten the administrative burden of the eradication scheme on farmers but he advised farmers to fully comply with the new arrangements in the interests of the prevention of the spread of TB.  He reminded farmers that any non-compliance would result in the imposition of penalties on compensation due to herdowners for animals removed as reactors. 

Concluding, Minister Coveney welcomed the significant reduction in the incidence of TB in Ireland in recent years. TB in cattle in 2011 was at the lowest level recorded since the introduction of the eradication scheme and the indications were that it would remain at this record low level this year as well. The Minister said that the reduction in TB levels had generated significant savings for his Department which were used to ameliorate worst effects of the reduced budgetary resources available to his Department in recent years.

Date Released: 18 December 2012