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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 14 May 1969

Vol. 240 No. 8

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Allocation of Meath Herd Number.


asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries why a person (name supplied) in County Meath has been refused a herd number although his father has transferred a farm to him and he has now adequate stock on the farm and is not in a position to have an independent herd test.

Herd numbers are allotted primarily for the purposes of the bovine tuberculosis eradication scheme so that, in the event of the discovery of the disease in a herd, the herd can be isolated and the movement of cattle into and out of the herd can be effectively controlled. Herd numbers are allocated only to herds which are run as independent units. I am not satisfied that this is so in the case in question.

Is the Minister aware —I am quite sure that he is—that this young man has a farm of his own and has stock enough to stock it and because of the fact that the Department will not give him a herd number he has to mix his cattle with his father's cattle? That is the only reason why the veterinary service say that they will not give him a herd number. Will the Minister look into it and see if a separate herd number can be allocated and the herd regarded as a separate unit?

I am aware that what the Deputy says is correct but, on the other hand, I am not aware that the matter is as simple to resolve as he suggests for the reason that if there are two herds, as far as we understand, this has grown up as one herd. To say now that there is sufficient stock to have an independent herd is not the correct approach here. Physically this may be so but the question remains will they be run as one unit or as two units? This is what we have to guard against: if an outbreak of disease should occur in the cattle belonging to the son that they would not have been in contact with the herd belonging to the father or to somebody else. I think the Deputy will appreciate that this is the purpose of being somewhat restrictive in issuing herd numbers in this sort of circumstance, family cases, where the animals are mixed up together, very often for the good reason that it is a better way to do the job to work the two lots together. I will certainly have another look to see if it is simple and can be resolved in that way and genuinely get two distinct herds without their being mixed now or at some later time. Then there will be no obstacle in the way of a second herd number.

I should like the Minister to know that the public road divides the two farms and there is no problem about mixing. If the son gets the herd number that will be the end of the mixing.

It is not a question of what divides the two farms. It is how or when the two herds may be put together. The width of the road would not make the slightest difference in that case, or a distance of a mile or half a mile, for that matter.

Does the Minister not approve of the father giving portion of his farm to his son?

Most decidedly, but I do not approve that, under the bovine tuberculosis eradication scheme, the whole essence of containing any outbreak, should one occur, should be nullified by allowing two herd numbers to exist when, in fact, one herd number is all that is justified.