UFU to oppose plans to charge farmers for TSE tests

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The Ulster Farmers’ Union says it will oppose DAERA plans to charge farmers for testing for Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs).

This follows a DAERA consultation on changes to the TSE regulations.

UFU president Barclay Bell said that ransferring the cost of TSE sampling to the industry would cost £6.50 for each fallen animal over 48 months of age. There are about 22,000 a year, which would mean transferring £143,000 of charges to industry.

Mr Bell said the UFU believes TSE sampling requirements are above the level required.

He added: “Both at a local and EU level they exceed international requirements, yet Northern Ireland has BSE negligible risk status. They are excessive in relation to the risk, and in place to be seen, rather than on the basis of science. Farmers should not be expected to pay for sampling at a level they believe is unnecessary.”

The UFU says passing fees on to the industry is the wrong decision from the consultation and that DAERA should instead have supported a reduction in the level of sampling.

“We would like to see the age for TSE sampling increased from 48 to 70 months, so reducing the level and cost of sampling,” said the UFU president.