Pedigree Cattle Trust says ‘No’ to compensation cap

Courtesy of its response to the recent public consultation on the future bovine TB (bTB) testing and eradication strategy that will be implemented in Northern Ireland, the Pedigree Cattle Trust says it totally disagrees with a limit being placed on animal compensation values.

Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 7:52 am

A range of future policy options was recently published by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

A spokesman for the Trust said:“There is a very general implication that there is a mischief of fraud, which DAERA seeks to address.

“It has been consistently demonstrated over many years that the number of prosecutions for fraud in relation to TB has been miniscule. Even a cursory review of the consequences of a TB outbreak on the average farm would clearly indicate that the amount of compensation payable is a very small portion of the loss sustained by the individual farmer.

“The consequential loss of having a herd closed is by far the greater loss sustained by the farmer, not to mention the costs of carrying out follow-up tests.”

According to the Trust, most of the pedigree herds in Northern Ireland are small, in terms of their overall size. Moreover, a significant number of animals regularly travel to Great Britain, where they achieve very significant prices.

This begs the question - can it possibly be reasonable to suggest that an animal which would have achieved a price of, say, £50,000 in Carlisle would be only eligible for a payment of £5,000?

The Trust spokesman continued: “It is impossible, due to the continued failure of DAERA to adequately reduce the incidence of the disease to insure such an animal.

“The net effect of imposing such a cap together with the impact of Brexit, and the impression that bTB is out of control in Northern Ireland, is going to call into question the viability of sending the best stock to Great Britain for sale.

“The result will be that farmers will be discouraged from producing animals with the best quality genetics and the number and quality of pedigree herds is likely to decline.”

The Trust representative concluded: “Whilst this is a very significant loss to individual farmers who have pedigree herds that is not the most significant consequence of this proposal. The entire future of the cattle industry depends upon the improvement of genetics and the existence of top quality herds has the consequence of cascading down throughout the industry the benefits of such genetics.

“The marketability of beef and dairy products will be under significant challenge in the foreseeable future due to issues about the environment and climate change and it is a totally unnecessary body-blow to damage leading edge breeding techniques.”