Newry & Armagh DUP Assembly election candidate William Irwin has spoken of his concern on the time taken by DAERA officials to remove TB positive animals from farms.
Mr Irwin said he had been contacted by farmers with concerns that infected animals were not being removed from farms in some cases for weeks, meaning isolating larger numbers of infected cattle was proving difficult and risking further infection of other animals.
He highlighted how one particular dairy farmer, with a considerable number of animals testing positive for TB, was concerned that it was taking valuers too long to visit the farm and relayed his concerns of the knock-on effect of this delay.
Mr Irwin said: “Bovine TB continues to be a source of concern in the farming community and I have been consistent in calling for increased measures and resources for the fight against this disease. I know the Minister Michelle McIlveen has been keen to get a firm grip on this matter and I have been raising the concerns of farmers out in the countryside with her directly.
“Speaking to farmers in recent days where larger numbers of animals are infected, they say that it is taking valuers too long to visit their farm and start the process of removing infected animals.
“This is causing a big concern, as it is difficult to completely isolate a larger number of animals from the rest of the herd. In some cases delays are running into weeks and farmers in this position are very worried about disease containment and the big risk of further spread to other animals in the herd.”
He concluded: “It is of absolute importance for biosecurity that infected animals are removed in the shortest possible time frame and that isn’t happening in cases involving larger numbers of infected animals. I would urge the Department to ensure that a swifter response is put in place to remove infected animals as this is vital in terms of eradicating the disease in the longer term.”