asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when it is estimated that the Irish cattle herd will finally be declared free of bovine TB; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Bovine TB Elimination.
Since Ireland's national cattle herd is already recognised as officially tuberculosis free the question of any further declaration in relation to its disease status does not arise.
The final elimination of bovine TB is dependent on a number of requirements, chief among which is a comprehensive and continuous programme of testing over several years. I regard this year's programme as the beginning of a period of greater continuity in testing which I shall seek to maintain in the future.
Will the Minister not agree that because of the high cost to the State of bovine TB testing it should be possible to indicate when we will have a clear herd?
In view of the length of time that has already been spent on the eradication of this disease it would be foolhardy to hazard a guess as to when TB will be finally eradicated but, as I have assured the House, with the present programme and a new impetus given to the eradication programme we will be able to show significant progress in this regard in a reasonable time.
Will the Minister confirm that some herds have not been tested since 1983 in the annual herd testing programme?
I am not quite certain if it goes back as far as 1983, but certainly some herds have not been tested for up to two years. We hope this situation will not arise again and that there will be annual round testing and a more determined and vigorous effort to eradicate this disease finally.
Is it proposed to publish for public perusal the different research work that has gone on in the Department and at the institutes into the reason for the failure of the massive investment in the eradication of bovine TB to date?
As far as I am aware the various studies and research programmes that have been carried out into this matter have been widely circulated and I am not aware of any publication that has not been made available to the public.
For the benefit of the Deputies in the House, would the Minister confirm that in 1985 there were one and a third rounds of TB testing done in the national herd?
In reply to a previous question I gave the percentage herd and percentage of animals tested in 1985 and, while there was the equivalent of one round, some herds were tested more than once and other herds were not tested even once.
So it would not be untrue to state that some herds were not tested since 1983, four years ago.
That is not a question.
Would the Minister say whether he is entirely satisfied with the vaccines used today, whether he is happy with the result and whether these vaccines have had the same effect on the eradication of bovine TB here as in other countries where they are used?
I am not in a position to answer that question. It is not directly in the brief. I will have the matter examined. All aspects of the disease eradication programme are under active consideration at present and perhaps I will be able to have a discussion with the Deputy in that regard at an appropriate time.