TB pro­pos­als will ‘stig­ma­tise’ farmers and de­value stock

Farmers vent anger at 2030 TB erad­i­ca­tion plan in­for­ma­tion meet­ings

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS - MARTIN RYAN Sea­weed feed not a ‘sil­ver bul­let’ for beef emis­sions CLAIRE FOX

PRO­POS­ALS that would pub­licly iden­tify an­i­mals from herds cat­e­gorised as high risk for TB in­fec­tion would stig­ma­tise farmers and de­value stock, Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture of­fi­cials have been warned.

Farmers have vented their anger to se­nior Depart­ment of­fi­cials at in­for­ma­tion meet­ings on the lat­est pro­pos­als to ac­cel­er­ate TB erad­i­ca­tion by 2030.

“Stig­ma­tis­ing farmers in marts, by pub­li­cis­ing their name on the board (as a high risk herd for TB) is a very dan­ger­ous road to be go­ing down and farmers will not ac­cept it,” one farmer warned of­fi­cials at the in­for­ma­tion meet­ing in Ne­nagh, Co Tip­per­ary. A 200-cow dairy farmer who is fac­ing into his sec­ond calv­ing sea­son with a locked-down herd pleaded with the of­fi­cials for a so­lu­tion to what he de­scribed as a night­mare sit­u­a­tion of cop­ing with the ad­di­tional stock.

Sev­eral farmers spoke emo­tion­ally about the “trauma” of herd break­down for fam­i­lies, the fi­nan­cial hard­ships ex­pe­ri­enced, al­leged long de­lays in re­ceiv­ing pay­ments un­der the scheme.

The Depart­ment of­fi­cials con­firmed that 2,400 farms are cur­rently af­fected and the de­cline in in­fec­tion rate has ceased with lat­est re­turns show­ing a 15pc in­crease to SEA­WEED-BASED feed is no sil­ver bul­let for meth­ane re­duc­tion in cat­tle and fur­ther re­search is needed on its vi­a­bil­ity in Ire­land given our is­land lo­ca­tion and emis­sion tar­get chal­lenges, a Tea­gasc sci­en­tist has said.

In 2017, sci­en­tists at James Cook Univer­sity in Queens­land, Aus­tralia found the ad­di­tion of 2pc dried sea­weed to a cow’s diet could re­duce their meth­ane emis­sions by as much as 99pc.

Speak­ing at the re­cent Tea­gasc Sea­cli­mate 13,933 re­ac­tors for 2018. Of­fi­cials re­jected claims that re­ac­tors were not be­ing paid for at mar­ket value.

They said that of the 16,000 an­i­mals per an­num taken out un­der the scheme, the vast ma­jor­ity are ac­cepted with 1pc go­ing to ar­bi­tra­tion which is avail­able to all farmers.

Com­pen­sa­tion

They stated that com­pen­sa­tion pay­ment per re­ac­tor had in­creased in 2018 by 18pc to an av­er­age of €701.55 and the over­all com­pen­sa­tion is up 35pc to €9.774m for the year, with hard­ship fund pay­ments up 60pc to €2.92m.

IFA An­i­mal Health chair Pat Farrell said that farmers are not happy with the pace work­shop in Dublin, Dr Maria Hayes said that while stud­ies abroad on giv­ing sea­weed-based feed to an­i­mals were shown to re­duce meth­ane gas emis­sions from cows and cat­tle, food safety con­cerns must be looked at be­fore in­tro­duc­ing such feed on a main­stream level in Ire­land.

“Tea­gasc re­searchers are look­ing into the pos­si­ble im­pact of sea­weed-based an­i­mal feed re­duc­ing emis­sions, and since we are an is­land, it is worth look­ing into.

“How­ever, fac­tors such as is it safe for an­i­mals to con­sume and would food prod­ucts made from an­i­mals who have con­sumed of erad­i­ca­tion which has been “way too slow” and added pay­ments to farmers are small rel­a­tive to the over­all cost to the sec­tor in levies and test­ing fees.

Depart­ment of­fi­cial Philip Bres­lin gave a com­pre­hen­sive in­for­ma­tive pre­sen­ta­tion in Ne­nagh on the com­plex­i­ties of the tests used for de­tec­tion.

An es­ti­mated 6,000 bad­gers are now be­ing culled each year and 1,000 vac­ci­nated, with plans to in­crease vac­ci­na­tion, and while it is ac­cepted that bad­gers can be car­ri­ers, “there is no ev­i­dence that there’s a link to foxes and TB.”

Mr Bres­lin said that out­side of Co Wick­low, there was no ev­i­dence of deer be­ing a source of spread of in­fec­tion. sea­weed feed be safe need to be con­sid­ered,” said Dr Hayes.

“One of our speak­ers, Rob Kin­ley from Aus­tralia, fed sea­weed to cat­tle and re­duced meth­ane by 70pc, but the sea­weed he used is not na­tive to Ir­ish shores.

“It is worth look­ing into in terms of the whole cli­mate change de­bate but I don’t think sea­weed would pro­vide a sil­ver bul­let.

“While there are stud­ies that show its ben­e­fits, there are an equal amount of stud­ies which claim it may be of no ben­e­fit at all, so this re­ally has to be as­sessed.”

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