BVA, BVA Northern Ireland Branch and the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) have welcomed the Agriculture Minister’s announcement of a £4 million package of support for local livestock farmers.
The support package includes measures to continue the progress of Northern Ireland’s Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) eradication programme.
The funding, provided under the EU Exceptional Adjustment Aid, will enable livestock farmers, including milk producers, to apply for financial assistance in the culling of BVD Persistently Infected (PI) calves, within four weeks of an initial BVD test, and replacement of the animal.
President of the British Veterinary Association’s Northern Ireland Branch Seamus O’Kane said: “Ensuring support for farmers, and, by extension, vets, to combat BVD was one of the key recommendations we called for in ‘The veterinary profession’s manifesto for Northern Ireland’, which we launched in the run up to May’s elections, so we are encouraged by the minister’s announcement.
“Persistently infected animals do not always look unwell, but they do produce vast quantities of virus throughout their lives so are a significant source of infection to other animals. Providing financial compensation to encourage the swift removal of these animals from a herd is major step forward in the control of BVD.”
British Veterinary Association president Gudrun Ravetz said: “The announcement by the Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture underlines her, and the Executive’s commitment to working in a practical, pragmatic way to get the best results for animal health and welfare.
“The removal of PIs is the key to any successful BVD eradication programme, especially when it’s backed up by the effective government, veterinary profession and industry approach that we’re seeing in action.”
The support package also intends to improve pig meat quality; manage soils and nutrients more effectively; and help farmers receive training in business planning and risk management.
President of the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) Andrew Cobner added: “The announcement is great news for the cattle industry in Northern Ireland. Eradication of BVD is a very achievable goal.”