FARMERS have welcomed the relaxation of brucellosis testing controls announced by Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Brendan Smith.
Irish Farmers Association deputy president Derek Deane said the changes are in line with the submission made by the IFA and represent minimum annual savings in excess of €5m for farmers.
“The Minister for Agriculture has taken an important first step in reducing administration costs on farm by implementing changes in the testing announced,” he said.
Mr Deane said the removal of heifers under 18 months from the pre-movement test will be an immediate benefit to farmers, who will be selling store heifers over the coming months.
Only testing animals over 24 months in the annual herd test will also remove some of the excessive cost associated with herd testing.
Extending the validity of the pre-movement test from 30 to 60 days will provide better options for farmers in the sale of animals.
“It will also be of major assistance to farmers involved in the showing of cattle in local and regional shows,” he said.
Mr Deane said the decision to remove 50% of dairy herds from the annual herd test requirement for next year is also progress.
But, based on the current situation on brucellosis in Northern Ireland, further relaxation should be possible before the round test commences next year.
He said farmers have played a pivotal role in achieving brucellosis-free status, but they must continue to help maintain this status by only purchasing animals of known origin from reputable sources.
Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) president Malcolm Thompson also welcomed the minister’s announcement.
“ICSA has continuously lobbied the minister for these much needed changes and it is heartening to see some small relief for farmers.
“We are continuing to press for an overdue streamlining of the tuberculosis testing regime. We believe this is very possible, while at the same time ensuring our good name and reputation in the export markets is protected and maintained,” he said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved