asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of herds tested and the number of cattle tested expressed in numbers and as percentages of the national herd under the bovine TB eradication scheme for the 1986-87 round of testing.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Bovine TB Eradication Scheme.
Approximately 115,300 herd tests and some seven million animal tests, which are equivalent to 62.3 per cent and 100 per cent respectively of the national herd, were carried out during the 1986-87 bovine TB eradication programme just ended. These figures include some cases where the same herd was tested more than once during the round and this means that the number of individual herds and animals tested, for which precise figures are not readily available, would be somewhat lower.
Arising out of the concern expressed by farmers that despite the doubling of the levies there will not be a full round of testing this year, will the Minister take the opportunity to put that concern to rest and assure farmers that there will be a full round of testing in the current year?
I can assure the Deputy that there will be a full round of testing in the current year.
Will the Minister advise us as to the percentage reduction there has been in the prevalence of TB amongst the national herd as a result of the round of testing mentioned by him?
The present position is that there are 3,194 herds restricted, that is, a prevalence level of 1.72 per cent.
I understand that 63 per cent of herds were tested last year and I should like to know if it was because of a lack of finance that a full round of testing was not carried out?
The Deputy will be aware that there was a decrease in the budgetary allocation for the scheme last year. The funding for the scheme was £24.5 million and the amount spent was £26.2 million compared with £34 million required for a full test.
Obviously, some herds were tested twice while others were not tested at all and I should like the Minister to confirm that greater emphasis was laid on those areas where there had been a recurrence of bovine TB rather than overlapping in areas declared clear or almost clear.
It is correct to say that last year the high risk or areas of high prevalence were earmarked for special consideration.
With regard to the extent of the testing that has been carried out will the Minister advise the House as to the amount paid in fees to the veterinary profession? Will the Minister advise the House as to when he expects the national herd to be declared free of bovine TB, a question that is on the Order Paper in the name of Deputy Mac Giolla?
I do not wish to tell the Chair his job but I would prefer to take the questions in order.
Will the Minister advise me of the extent of the fees paid?
That is a separate question.
Will the Minister confirm that in all cases where there was a serious recurrence of bovine TB those areas were covered in the series of tests in the period we are talking about?
My information is that special emphasis and consideration were given to badly hit areas. That was done to the maximum extent possible.