Irwin welcomes BVD scheme approval

DUP's William Irwin
DUP's William Irwin

Newry and Armagh DUP Assembly election candidate William Irwin has welcomed the approval of the BVD eradication scheme to allow farmers to access a subsidy to humanely destroy calves born in recent weeks that test positive for BVD.

Mr Irwin welcomed the wider aid scheme approval which is due to come into force on February 1 and expire on September 30. He said that despite the tight deadlines imposed by the EU for the operation of the scheme and the challenges that presented, the committee and the Minister Michelle McIlveen was keen to ensure that Northern Ireland farmers did not loose out.

Mr Irwin said: “It was certainly my view and that of the committee in our deliberations on this scheme, that Northern Ireland farmers should not loose out on important financial assistance to help eradicate BVD.

“The deadlines imposed by the EU are tight and with the obvious issues presented by the collapse of the Assembly, it was important that the necessary legislation was passed through in order that our farming community was not disenfranchised. I emphasised at the committee to our officials, the necessity of ensuring that this scheme was operational in the shortest possible time to enable it to be of practical benefit.

“The BVD element is only one part of the £4.07 millon Single Common Market Organisation (Exceptional Adjustment Aid) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017 which also contains a Pig Industry Competitive Scheme, a soil sampling and analysis scheme and also training in business planning and risk management. With the wide variety of measures available through the scheme and the potential to assist a number of sectors in practical ways, it would have been detrimental to our industry if the legislative deadline had been missed.”

He concluded: “I would urge officials to push forward with the roll out of the scheme to ensure that the short window between February and September is fully utilised across all the measures to ensure that the allocated financial aid is delivered and the scheme criteria is met. I certainly thank the Minister Michelle McIlveen for her work on this issue in working up this scheme and getting the legislation in place swiftly.”

Meanwhile, commenting ahead of the opening of the BVD Incentivisation Scheme, DEFRA Committee Member David Simpson MP said: “The plans outlined by our DAERA Minister highlights the clear vision that we have to encourage the humane disposal of livestock. The scheme is being eagerly anticipated by those working within the industry and I look forward to the opening of this scheme in February.”