NI vets and farmers worried about TB testing disruption

NI vets and farmers worried about TB testing disruption

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has said it is extremely concerned about the impact on it members ofa break in TB testing services given the absence of a revised agreed contract between DAERA and the Private Veterinary Practitioners.

UFU president David Brown said, “It’s the UFU’s understanding that DAERA have not yet supplied the Private Veterinary Practitioners with all terms of the revised contract and the current one is due to expire on 10 April 2023 – only days away. The timing is hugely inconvenient for our members, with many farmers having planned TB testing in the forthcoming weeks prior to moving cattle outdoors for summer grazing. We’re already aware of members who have had their TB test cancelled next week.

“There is also the worrying reality that the incidence rate of TB in cattle has been increasing steadily, reaching record highs. Routine herd testing is a key part of the control program and the shortest break can cause significant disruption, derailing our ability to suppress and progress towards eradication.

“We urge DAERA and PVP to put all their efforts into creating a resolution to get a revised contract in place immediately, to ensure that TB testing continues uninterrupted. We’ve also made it clear to DAERA that our members will not stand for additional herd restrictions being imposed or cross compliance penalties for overdue testing as a result of their inability to deliver on a critical contract. The end date of which, they would’ve been aware of for some time.”

The Association of Veterinary Surgeons Practising in Northern Ireland,  which represents more than 500 vets in practice whose members carry out the majority of TB tests here, said disruption was “almost inevitable”‘.