bTB almost derails Newry Show 2023
Only the intervention of a nearby farmer, in providing an alternative venue close to the village of Bessbrook, has ensured that the show will still take place on its scheduled date: Saturday, June 24th.
Newry Agricultural Show committee chairman, Brian Lockhart, takes up the story.
“This was the last thing that we were expecting. It turns out that one reactor animal was identified courtesy of a recent bTB test on the herd of the farmer, whose land we have used to host our annual show for the past number of years.
“Given that our original site had been used to graze some of the cattle tested, veterinary staff within the Department of Agriculture determined that Newry Show 2023 could not take place on these lands.”
He added:“But we do have an alternative venue, again close to Bessbrook. And that’s the good news.”
Newry Show has not taken place since 2019. Covid restrictions in 2020 and 2021 acted to prohibit all of Northern Ireland’s agricultural shows from taking place during that period.
“The decision was taken not to push ahead with an event last year, mainly for financial reasons,” Brian Lockhart confirmed.
“So 2023 is very much a case of bringing back a show that has a history stretching back 106 years. We celebrated our centenary back in 2017.
“Farming and food are at the very heart of t economy throughout the Newry and Mourne area. The commitment to host Newry Show is as strong as it has ever been.
“But events of recent weeks have brought home to us all just how devastating the impact that bTB is having in rural areas at the present time.”
Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) deputy president William Irvine attended the recent launch of Newry Show 2023.
He confirmed that bTB is now out of control.
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He added: “The cost to the public purse of implementing the current bTB control measures, which aren’t working, will be north of £50M in 2023.
“The reality is that badgers do harbour bTB. The disease is being picked up on increasing basis within road kill animals submitted for post mortem investigation.
“There is a new strategy in place, which addresses the reality that bTB must be eradicated within both our cattle and badger populations.
“It is up to the Department of Agriculture to implement these plans as a matter of priority.”
According to the UFU representative, farmers want to see healthy populations of badgers and cattle living side by side each other in the countryside.
He concluded:“The cost to the public purse of the current bTB control measures is immense.
“If we had the disease eradicated this money could be used to provide more effective support measures for farm businesses and rural communities right across Northern Ireland.”
Meanwhile, Brian Lockhart is quick to confirm the tremendous community commitment that is driving the success of Newry Agricultural Show 2023.
“And all of this is taking place on a voluntary basis,” he stressed.
“A case in point is the fact that we have been able to find an alternative site within such a short space of time.
Brian concluded:“We have a tremendous range of attractions lined up for this year’s show. Let’s just hope the weather plays its part on Saturday, June 24th.”