Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen this week announced that a scheme aimed at the removal of animals infected by BVD would come into operation within a matter of weeks.
On 30 November 2016, the Minister announced a £4 million package of support for local livestock farmers provided under EU Exceptional Adjustment Aid (EAA).
The Minister said: “The EAA package includes a scheme to incentivise the humane removal of BVD infected animals, as well as schemes to improve pig meat quality, manage soils and nutrients more effectively, and receive training in business planning and risk management.
“The required regulations were made and laid in the Assembly on 16 January 2017 and will come into operation on 1 February 2017. My Department plans to open the BVD incentivisation scheme as soon as possible after that date.”
To be eligible for payment herd keepers must ensure that each animal meets the following criteria, that is that it had:
l notification of its birth recorded on APHIS, in accordance with Regulation 6 of the Cattle Identification (notification of Birth, Deaths and Movements) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999;
l fully complied with the requirements of the BVD Eradication Scheme Order;
l tested positive for the presence of BVD virus;
l not been moved from the farm on which it was born;
l been humanely destroyed; and
l its death confirmed on APHIS within four weeks of receiving a positive BVD test result. An additional two weeks will be allowed where an applicant elects for repeat analysis of an initial positive result.
DAERA is keen to emphasise that Herd Keepers are responsible for ensuring the death of the animal is confirmed via APHIS-on-line or by MC1 submitted to DAERA. The Department would also remind Herd Keepers that they should not assume that the death will be recorded by the disposal agent or rendering plant.
The rate of financial assistance which will be available is £160 for a beef calf; £130 for a dairy heifer calf; £50 for a dairy male calf.
Department officials are currently finalising the operational details of the scheme. Full details of the scheme, including the claim process and conditions, will be published in scheme guidance and the exact date of the opening of the scheme will be published in due course. The scheme will be delivered in a partnership between DAERA, AHWNI and the LMC. The Department adopts a zero-tolerance policy to fraud.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed the minister’s announcement.
UFU deputy president, Victor Chestnutt said: “We are pleased DAERA took on board our views in ensuring funding from the EU Exceptional Adjustment Aid scheme benefits all livestock sectors. In September we urged DAERA to use the funding strategically to deliver maximum benefit.
“Our members wanted to see the funding used to support animal health measures, and in a way that produced genuine, lasting benefits to the industry,” he said.
The UFU says that while the funding available is limited, this is an opportunity to help farmers tackle a key animal health issue.
“This financial incentive will be welcomed by farmers who for years have been plagued with BVD,” added Mr Chestnutt. “Over the last four years, the UFU has called for aid to encourage farmers to remove persistently infected (PI) animals quickly to eliminate BVD from Northern Ireland. With this financial incentive, those reluctant to give up PI animals have lost another reason for retaining them.”
The UFU says anyone that has a BVD positive calf should avail of this scheme to help Northern Ireland reach national BVD free status sooner, which will bring benefits for the entire livestock industry.