€1bn plan to eliminate bovine TB by 2030

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has reiterated his commitment to eradication of bovine TB in Ireland by 2030.

“We have spent €5.5 billion in today’s money and the plan is to spend another €1 billion between now and 2030, by which time we hope to have eliminated TB.

“It is not that there will be no incidence of TB, but we will be below a certain threshold, and thus deemed to be TB-free for the purpose of international trade, which will bring its own benefits,” said Minister Creed as he gave details last week of his department’s revised expenditure estimates for 2019.

Included is additional funding for the Department’s ERAD disease eradication section, recognising that there has been a slight rise in herd disease incidence rates.

He observed that when a herd contracts tuberculosis now, it is more costly, because herds tend to be bigger.

He said, “The work of the TB forum will be very instructive as to the ways and means to achieve our ambitious goal of eradication by 2030.

“It is an ambitious target but it is probably more doable than draining the Shannon.”

“The choice is to continue plodding along at the rate we are going or to do something more radical and try to achieve our ambition by 2030.”

The expenditure estimates for 2019 include an overall increase of €31 million over last year.

They include a substantial increase in pay and non-pay administrative allocations, which reflects additional funding for Brexit preparations for additional checks on east–west trade.

“I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that Ireland is the most Brexit-prepared member state,”, said Minister Creed, as he answered questions from the Select Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the estimates.

Among the planned expenditure increases are the €20m for farmer payments in the new beef environmental efficiency pilot, BEEP, plus €1m for BEEP cattle weighing equipment. The scheme will provide up to €40 for each of about 450,000 weanlings. “The ambition is to pay this scheme in the current calendar year,” said the Minister.

Additional funding support of €2.75m is confirmed for the meat inspection service, following a new agreement with Veterinary Ireland on engagement of temporary veterinary inspectors.

There is a once-off sum of €4m in additional funding to support introduction of sheep electronic identification, EID, with funding both for farmers and to provide EID readers for marts.

Included in support to farmers who deliver public goods and environmental benefits is investment in the pearl mussel, hen harrier, and Burren farming schemes, and a number of smaller, more localised schemes. “This work is very much in sync with the objectives of the recently published report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Action and the whole-of-Governmen approach to ensuring Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Minister Creed.

The already announced €23m allocation for areas of natural constraints (the ANC scheme) takes it to €250m, restoring it to pre-downturn levels.

The Minister also confirmed increased funding for knowledge transfer, capital investment by food companies, initiatives for artisan producers, and Teagasc’s prepared consumer foods centre at Ashtown and food innovation hub at Moorepark. The Bord Bia allocation has been increased by almost €5m and now stands at almost €47m, compared with €32m in 2015.

Provision for the Department’s seafood programme has been increased by €6m.

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