Farm Minister responds to Farmers for Action calls for round table talks on TB eradication

Farm Minister Edwin Poots MLA, pictured, has responded to calls from Farmers for Action (FFA) to have him host round table talks, involving all relevant stakeholder groups, regarding a future bTB eradication policy for Northern Ireland.
Edwin Poots. Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker PressEdwin Poots. Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press
Edwin Poots. Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press

In his letter the Minister said that the proposed new bTB Eradication Strategy for Northern Ireland progresses at pace, adding: “I believe it may be more fruitful to hold stakeholder engagement events after I have presented the next steps on a way forward to the Executive and the Assembly.”

Edwin Poots also pointed to the ongoing role of the TB Strategic Partnership Group (TBSPG) in this context and the significance of the public consultation on the Department’s response to the group’s recommendations.

The Minister added:

“Since coming into post in January, I have been working closely with officials on finalising the detail of the new Strategy which is intended to address all of the factors which contribute to the spread and endurance of this costly disease. Some of the Strategy’s proposals will also likely require new legislation and further consultation.

“Stakeholder participation will be a central element of the Strategy. In June 2018, the Department established an independent advisory body, the TB Eradication Partnership, to provide advice on bTB eradication. Its membership is drawn from the NI farming community and food processing sector, as well as scientific, veterinary and environmental/conservation backgrounds.

“One of its key roles is to engage with stakeholders and represent their views. The strategy is also expected to include proposals to work in partnership with stakeholders regionally and enable the establishment of local disease response teams to address bTB in high incidence areas.”

Edwin Poots also pointed out that the cost of bTB, to both the public purse and the farming community, remains unacceptably high.

He concluded:“These costs highlight the need for a new approach to tackling bTB here and I look forward to engaging fully with stakeholders on the detail of the bTB Strategy in the coming months.”

Commenting on the points made by the Minister, FFA’s William Taylor said: “Members of our steering committee our steering committee have read and digested Minister Poots’ reply and are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Finally a Minister of Agriculture, who is also a farmer, is actually further down the road with his plans to eradicate bTB than perhaps many think.”