Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Questions (476)

Carol Nolan


476. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide clarity in respect of the proposed two TB tests for cattle; the stage and circumstances these two TB tests will have to be taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51387/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

New EU bovine TB rules are contained in the Delegated Act (DA) on Part II of Regulation (EU) 2016/429 on surveillance, eradication programmes and free status of animal diseases. The original proposals from the EU Commission were quite severe and would have had a significant negative impact on Irish farmers. The original draft proposals included:

- 12 month minimum TB restriction period

- Prohibition on any inward/outward movement in restricted herds

- Derestriction only to occur following two clear tests 6 months apart

- Compulsory 30-day pre/post movement test in ALL cases

During the negotiation of the legal text, my officials engaged intensively with Commission counterparts and experts from other Member States on this issue. Ireland was successful in achieving considerable changes to the draft TB regulations to the benefit of Irish farmers in negotiations on all points but one - which though modified did not fully meet our requests.

The current draft text retains the 30 day pre/post movement test requirement, however only where the animal and the herd of origin have not been tested in the last 6 months. My officials had proposed the introduction of risk-based pre/post movement testing, supported by peer-reviewed scientific research undertaken in Ireland. Our analysis shows that this approach would be more effective than across-the-board pre/post movement testing. There has been very limited support from other Member States for our position.

Ireland has approximately 2.2 million movements (counting farm-to-farm and farm-to-mart-to-farm each as one movement for these purposes) per year - not all of these existing movements would have been affected by the proposed measures. The new rule would mean that these movements would have to either take place within 6 months of the herd test, or the herdowner (buyer or seller) would have to have a pre/post movement test carried out.