Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has said that Departmental efforts to eradicate TB must refocus on the issue of wildlife carriers.
Mr Irwin also said recent comments by UUP leader Robin Swann on TB reactor fraud, were unrepresentative of the wider farming community and he said he felt the remarks had negative connotations for agriculture in Northern Ireland.
He added: “Firstly I do think Robin Swann was wrong to paint such a drastic picture of the industry in regards to the issue of fraud and whilst fraudulent actions have no place in our industry and must be condemned, the type of conversation Mr Swann needs to have with the Department is not one which should be conducted in the press. This has led to many farmers being displeased with the tone and overtures of Mr Swann’s piece in last week’s Farming Life, with many using the phrase “tarred with the one brush.
“The big focus in my view should remain on eradication using the most direct approaches available and that must include a renewed focus on wildlife carriers.”
Mr Irwin added: “I have said for some time that the current TB eradication strategy will not in my opinion deliver results in the immediate future that will see the type of impact needed to reverse the current incidence trend. We are currently seeing incidence levels at very high rates when compared with other regions of the UK and indeed the Republic of Ireland and it is no coincidence that in areas where success has been gained, robust wildlife action has been taken.
“The industry here in Northern Ireland has some of the highest biosecurity and traceability standards in the world and commentary which discusses fraudulent activity with such a broad brush style approach is detrimental to the vast majority of farmers who act completely within the law and would have no desire to do otherwise.”