THE Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill’s plans to introduce a geographically targeted preliminary badger sett survey in the Banbridge/Rathfriland area of County Down.
This is in preparation for the proposed “test and vaccinate or remove (TVR)” wildlife intervention research which will include the removal of diseased badgers from the countryside and the vaccination of remaining badgers in the target area.”
UFU President Harry Sinclair said: “This is a significant development and we welcome it as a positive step forward in our long battle to eradicate bovine TB.
“The UFU has always held the view that the removal and eradication of TB from the countryside can only be achieved by addressing the problem in both cattle and wildlife.
“The current TB policy of only removing diseased cattle will not achieve eradication because the disease is also carried in wildlife and therefore cattle will inevitably continue to be infected.
“While the plans set out by Minister O’Neill are a step forward, farmers will be concerned that it could entail a lengthy five year research programme.
“It is our view that the programme should be regularly evaluated and if the results are favourable, then the entire project should be rolled out across the industry much more quickly.”
Mr Sinclair concluded: “The UFU is totally committed to achieving the eradication of TB in Northern Ireland and we look forward to helping DARD and other industry stakeholders formulate a successful policy to achieve this.
“We all want to work towards achieving a healthy farm livestock and wildlife population.”