The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed the publication of the interim report from the Bovine Tuberculosis Strategic Partnership Group.
Deputy president, Ivor Ferguson, said it was clear the present strategy, which has been in place for almost 50 years, is not working for farmers or taxpayers.
The document will now go out to consultation before a final plan is drawn up, and the UFU says it will contribute to that debate.
“The report calls for more cooperation within the industry, and that is something we can go along with,” said Mr Ferguson. He added that the UFU understood the need for better identification of high risk areas, tighter bio-security as part of a wider strategy, and accepted that progress to reduce the incidence of TB would be slower than people would like.
“It is however crucial for us that the wildlife link to badgers is not parked. This must be central to any long-term strategy,” said Mr Ferguson. “The report acknowledges that in high risk areas a strategic programme of badger removal should be considered. This is something we welcome, and we will be pressing for the various options highlighted to be explored,” said Mr Ferguson. He added that the UFU recognised that this was a difficult issue, and that finding ways to tackle the wildlife link economically would be a major challenge.