New bovine TB eradication-strategy launched

New bovine TB eradication-strategy launched

Agriculture Minister  Edwin Poots has  launched a new long term bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) Eradication Strategy for Northern Ireland, to include the culling of badgers.

The Strategy, developed in collaboration with the TB Eradication Partnership, also includes additional cattle measures, the testing of non-bovines, enhanced bio-security and in the medium term, a review of compensation to farmers for animals removed under the TB Eradication Programme. .

Announcing the Strategy, Minister Poots said: “For too long this disease has had a devastating impact on our farming community. Since coming into post as Minister, I have made the eradication of bovine TB a top priority and have been determined to take every action possible to achieve this goal. My Department, and I, have liaised with leaders and stakeholders from across all sectors to ensure that we have taken all factors into consideration

“The proposals outlined in the new Strategy are based on the experience and evidence from other jurisdictions and on solid scientific research. I have carefully considered the views of all our stakeholders following a public consultation, weighing these up against the evidence and information within a detailed business case.

“To eradicate TB, all factors which contribute to the spread and maintenance of the disease in the environment must be addressed in parallel. I know that wildlife, particularly badgers, are a significant factor in TB maintenance and spread in the environment.

“I very much appreciate that this is an emotive issue for many but in order to ensure a healthy cattle population I intend to introduce a programme of badger intervention in a limited number of areas.

“I want to make clear this is not the wholescale removal of badgers across Northern Ireland nor is it the removal of all badgers in an area. It is based on the experience and success of other parts of the UK and in the Republic of Ireland.  I would hope that we can in a short number of years be able to move to a programme of badger vaccination and therefore we will have a healthy cattle and badger population.”

Welcoming the new strategy the Chief Veterinary Officer for Northern Ireland, Robert Huey, said: “A new agreed Strategy lays the foundation to enable DAERA and other key stakeholders to deploy a range of additional and enhanced measures to strengthen Northern Ireland’s bTB Eradication Programme and improve its impact.”

“Bovine TB continues to be a major concern for farmers across Northern Ireland and we now have a framework within which everyone with an interest in defeating this diseases can work together to implement the actions outlined in the Strategy, with a clear focus on our shared aim of eradication.”