bTB has become such a plague that wildlife intervention is ‘only option’

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed DAERA Minister Edwin Poots’ announcement regarding the bTB eradication strategy for Northern Ireland.

By Joanne Knox
Friday, 25th March 2022, 11:28 am
Updated Friday, 25th March 2022, 11:42 am

New measures to tackle the disease include gamma blood testing and “much-needed wildlife intervention”.

UFU president, Victor Chestnutt, commented: “Unfortunately, we have reached a stage where bTB has become such a plague in NI that the only option we have to eradicate the disease is to implement wildlife intervention.

“The DAERA Minister has made the right decision to follow through with a strategy that includes tackling bTB in all its hosts.

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“It will go a long way in helping us to get rid of bTb once and for all.

“We continue to speak to many farmers daily who have been affected by bTB recently, and over the years.

“It is an extremely painful experience to learn of that heartbreak from a fellow member of the farming community and to witness the devastation it has caused them and their family.

“Farmers cannot stand any further delays in tackling the disease, even with the extra cost that it may bring.

“Their backs are against the wall. To protect their cattle and livelihoods, they simply want an end to it.”

The UFU recently travelled to England to observe the wildlife intervention programme they have in place.

Each area that was visited, showed reductions in bTB, as well as increased biodiversity.

“Tackling bTB in all of its hosts will have huge benefits for the environment and other wildlife,” Mr Chestnutt continued.

“When the disease is controlled appropriately, not only are cattle less stressed, but farmers have witnessed the presence of nesting birds, bumblebees, brown hares and hedgehogs.”

The DAERA Minister also confirmed that two years after the implementation of the full bTB strategy, he will review the possible introduction of a cap on individual payments and stock valuation reductions on the payment farmers receive for each cow.

“For now, the minister will not implement stock valuation reductions and the UFU’s position has not changed on this - we strongly do not support any livestock valuation reductions of any kind,” the president said.

“The next steps we want to see going forward is the minister’s department progressing with the necessary work that is required to ensure the measures are put in place urgently.

“Farmers have waited long enough for this plague to be eradicated and it is absolutely critical that we get things moving now,” ended Mr Chestnutt.