Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) suckler chairman Dermot Kelleher said that the €100 allocated for each persistently infected animal, along with a €15 knackery subsidy, falls well short of the economic cost to the farmer.
Mr Kelleher said: “ICSA supports the effort to eradicate this damaging disease from the national herd and we encourage all farmers to test their calves in 2012. This will give farmers a head start on 2013 when the testing will be compulsory.
“The key reason for testing is that it is in the farmer’s own interest because the knock-on effects of BVD can be truly horrendous in terms of cattle having low immunity to other diseases, fertility issues etc and the cost of BVD in a herd can run into thousands.”
Mr Kelleher added that the €100 welfare payment for any suckler cow whose offspring is removed during the programme is not sufficient. He said it costs up to €500 a year to keep a suckler.
In unveiling the details of the BVD (bovine viral diarrhoea) eradication programme for 2012, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said he looked forward to increased output under the initiative, which would further boost our agri-food exports and farmer profitability in the year to come. Details of application procedures will be announced in January.
Mr Coveney said: “I want to reduce to the minimum the amount of red tape to the operation of this scheme and I have asked my department to take this into account in finalising the payment arrange-ments. By introducing the BVD eradication prog-ramme I am determined to give farmers a good start in their efforts to further improve Ireland’s animal disease status and to improve the performance in their own herds as a direct consequence.
“The payback period to profitability is extremely short and I would strongly encourage as many farmers as possible to enter the voluntary phase of this programme in 2012.
“In this regard I am delighted to hear that over 100,000 button tags had already been ordered by farmers, displaying a strong buy-in on their part.”
To qualify for these payments, persistently infected offspring would have to be disposed of in a timely fashion and the dam subjected to a test for BVD to establish whether she herself is a persistently infected animal. These requirements are to ensure the farmer takes appropriate measures to minimise the spread of virus within the farm, Mr Coveney said.