Bovine TB remains a significant issue for Irish farmers with 3,874 herds restricted in 2018. 10,785 farmers experienced a TB restriction in 2000. This represents a 65% decrease in the number of herds restricted in 2000 highlighting the significant success of the TB Programme.
Specifically in relation to compensation, the Irish TB Programme provides supports in excess of other jurisdictions. Farmers receive the open market value for any bovine diagnosed as a reactor (On Farm Market Valuation Scheme) and supplementary supports are also available to offset additional costs and income losses (Hardship Grant and Income Supplement).
Research carried out on TB in deer in Ireland had found that in certain areas where there are high densities of deer, cattle and badgers living alongside each other, the same strains of TB can circulate between them. However, there is currently no evidence that deer play a significant role in the spread of TB to cattle in most parts of Ireland.
The impacts of TB on a farmer are severe, causing financial hardship and emotional stress. This is why it is so important to reduce the numbers of farmers affected and to move to eradicate this disease. For that reason, I directed my officials to establish the TB Forum last year, so that all stakeholders can have a voice in discussing which policy options should be chosen to reduce disease levels and eradicate bovine TB from Ireland by 2030. The Forum discussions include the issues raised here, and have been discussed at length in a series of Forum meetings. Additionally, a series of bilateral meetings between my officials and the farming bodies have been held in the context of the TB Forum, which specifically included the issues of compensation, herds with high risk TB histories, and wildlife.