Vets in warning over cuts to bTB payments

Vets in warning over cuts to bTB payments

A cut to the compensation paid to farmers when cattle are culled for bTB could put their business as risk, vets have warned.

A  public consultation is seeking views on proposals, which could cut payments by as much as 25% of an affected animal’s pre-disease value with DAERA describing the he present system as “unsustainable”.

A DAERA consultation document said there had been a “significant” increase in costs over recent years because of rising disease levels and cattle market values.

It warned that “the costs of the programme cannot be sustained – particularly in the context of ongoing financial constraints across all government departments”.

However, the North of Ireland Veterinary Association said: “In a situation where current compensation arrangements do not take account of consequential losses, such cuts would have a major impact on the financial viability of many farms and place undue pressure on the mental health of farmers and farm families, with a knock-on effect for vets working in a range of capacities with herd owners.”

Current arrangements require the payment of 100% of pre-disease value for cattle that are culled for disease control purposes.

But although officials concede the payments do not cover other associated losses, the new proposals seek to reduce those levels to 90% in the first year and 75% in the second.

But NIVA said the 100% payment was introduced to match the provision offered in the rest of the UK and cuts contradicted the recommendations of a TB Strategic Partnership Group.

Junior vice-president Sharon Werner added: “Severe and chronic breakdowns are significant features of the current bovine TB situation in Northern Ireland.

“Therefore, it would be most unfair to introduce these cuts – particularly given the current patterns of infection, herd and animal incidence rates, and lack of action to deal with the TB reservoir in wildlife and to reduce infection risks generally.”

Full details of the consultation can be found HERE.