Beef Exports

Ceisteanna (1011)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

1011. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if cattle that are exported live will be considered under the formulation of the new beef exceptional aid measure, BEAM scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26575/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Beef Finisher Payment (BFP) scheme was launched on the 10th August 2020.   The aim of the scheme is to provide income support for farmers finishing beef who have been impacted by the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Payments are made based on the data contained on my Department’s Animal Identification and Movements (AIM) system. 

The Terms and Conditions of the BFP scheme defines eligible animals as follows;  “Eligible Animal” shall mean those bovine animals identified on AIM on the 15th of July 2020 as aged 8 months or over when presented for slaughter to a slaughtering establishment approved under the European Communities (Food & Feed Hygiene) Regulations (S.I. 22 of 2020) in the period of 1 February 2020 to 12 June inclusive”.

Only those animals slaughtered during the reference period in approved slaughter establishments located in the State can be considered for payment under the scheme.

All live bovine animals that are moved out of Ireland are recorded as ‘Live Exports’ irrespective of the purpose for which they are exported.  The status of such exported animals cannot be verified systematically.

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (1012)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

1012. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the efforts being made by his Department to protect the beef industry in view of the ongoing Brexit uncertainties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26576/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I am very conscious of the potentially very serious impact of a No Deal Brexit on the competitiveness of Irish beef exports to the UK, with tariff costs estimated by my Department at €724m, or 72%, based on 2019 beef exports of €1 billion to the UK market.

In addition to the Government’s and my Department’s wider Brexit preparedness strategy, there have been a number of measures developed specifically to assist the beef industry in managing market disturbance over the last number of years. 

In particular, the €35 million Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme for Sucklers (BEEP-S) this year, which builds on a €20 million pilot scheme in 2019, provides targeted supports for suckler farmers to improve the economic and environmental performance of their suckler beef herd, while supporting animal welfare measures.

In response to Brexit uncertainty, my Department paid out €78 million in supports to beef finishers and suckler farmers in 2019 under the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM), with €50 million funded by exceptional aid from the EU. This year, the €50 Beef Finisher Payment measure (BFP) will support beef finishing farmers who suffered market disturbance between 1 February and 12 June arising from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is in addition to the core support for the beef sector the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), a €300 million programme for improvement of the genetic merit of the national herd over the current Rural Development Programme. 

The work of the Beef Taskforce which was established last year as a platform for strategic engagement across sector stakeholders, as well as to monitor the implementation of the actions under the beef sector agreement,  is important in driving the evolution of the sector through this period of change.  Constructive and meaningful engagement across this group is essential to developing the sector in a sustainable way which adds value at all stages of the supply chain.

In addtion, my Department's focus on the development and enhancement of market access to third countries has intensified since the initial Brexit vote.

GLAS Issues

Ceisteanna (1013)

Christopher O'Sullivan

Ceist:

1013. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the GLAS scheme for farmers that are in their fifth year and whose contracts are coming to an end can roll over into 2021 (details supplied). [26585/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In relation to the arrangements for 2021, my Department is pressing for the earliest adoption of EU regulations to facilitate the operation of schemes in the period between the current CAP and the CAP Strategic Plan post-2020.  Once the regulatory framework has been determined, we will be in a position to make decisions about the next period. This will provide legal and financial certainty and consequently provide clarity on the next steps.

Food Labelling

Ceisteanna (1014)

Emer Higgins

Ceist:

1014. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to review and reform the systems in place for regulation of labelling on geographic indication, GI, spirit products. [26598/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department is the Competent Authority in Ireland for Ireland's three spirit drink Geographic Indications (GIs)  - Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream and Irish Poitín.  My Department, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and the Health Service Executive share responsibility for verifying compliance with the legal requirements related to GI spirit drinks, including labelling.  The HSE is responsible for general labelling requirements under Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 and currently performs GI labelling assessments, verifications and any required enforcement actions for Irish Whiskey and Poitín.  My Department is responsible for the approval of GI labelling requirements for Irish Cream and consults with the HSE to clarify issues relating to general labelling requirements. 

A Memorandum of Understanding and Protocol that is in place between all the Competent Authorities involved in the control of GI spirit drinks is currently being reviewed by my Department in consultation with the HSE, including the process for the regulation of labelling of all GI Spirit products.  I expect the review to be completed shortly.

Horse Racing Ireland

Ceisteanna (1015)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

1015. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the breakdown of salaries, expenses and so on paid to members of the board of Horse Racing Ireland. [26823/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is a commercial state body established under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001, and is responsible for the overall administration, promotion and development of the horse racing industry. 

A breakdown of fees and expenses from 2019 is outlined below:

The chairman of the board of HRI received €22,000.

Members of the board of HRI receive €13,000 per annum. Other more recent appointees to the board received a lower amount having joined during the year.  

A total of €17,000 in mileage expenses was paid in 2019, spread among nine members of the board of HRI.

Bord Bia

Ceisteanna (1016)

Patrick Costello

Ceist:

1016. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the estimated cost in 2021 if the budget for marketing and promotional expenditure within An Bord Bia increased by 7%. [26856/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Bord Bia is the State Body charged with promotion and marketing of Irish food, drink and horticulture products. In the context of the annual budgetary process, I make provision for a Grant (formerly Grant in Aid) for Bord Bia in my Department's Vote.

For 2020, the total grant in aid is €48.2million. Within this, a figure of €37million is assigned as Operational Expenditure, i.e. marketing and promotion. As a State Body with direct fiduciary responsibility,  Bord Bia disposes of this annual sum according to that Body's own annual Plans and Programmes as approved by its Board and in line with Bord Bia's Statement of Strategy.

Budget 2021 is currently under development and will be announced on Budget Day 13 October 2020.

Herd Data

Ceisteanna (1017)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

1017. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the safeguards in place to ensure that only Departmental officials have access to the national herd database and that the information is not shared with unauthorised persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26907/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Animal Identification and Movement System (AIM) is a generic database that records and maintains the identification and movement data in respect of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses in accordance with the requirements of EU and national law.  

Regarding the national bovine herd, AIM consists of a comprehensive web-based database of the origin, identity, movements and life history of all cattle born in or imported into the country.  AIM receives movement information from livestock marts, live export points and slaughter plants ensuring the prompt recording of all movements of cattle to and from these premises.   The origin, identity, movements and life history of animal(s) consigned to marts, slaughter plants and live export assembly centres are checked against the database before it is permitted to be consigned for movement to another holding, to enter the food chain or export.  The arrangements for movement of cattle direct from one holding to another holding require the source herd (seller) to seek pre-clearance for the proposed move from AIM either online or through a paper application.

My Department is committed to keeping all personal data safe and secure.  Access to AIM is subject to strict security under which each user completes the relevant form for the type of access required.  Each user is allocated a unique user ID by the Department’s Single Sign On System.  Each user has its own user profile that governs the degree of access to the system and the actions they can carry out on the system within their area of responsibility.  

Herd keepers that have signed up to register their animals electronically have access on AIM to details on animals that currently reside on their holdings.  Slaughter plants, livestock marts and export assembly centres only have AIM access to data relating to the animals presented in their particular outlets including export eligibility.  These outlets do not have access to data in respect of other animals on the holding of the presenting keeper.

The age profile of cattle slaughtered in the national herd is made available in the annual AIM Bovine Statistics Report (Section 2) which is published on the Department's website.

Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme

Ceisteanna (1018)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

1018. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if an ANC payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; if a payment plan can be offered for outstanding repayments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26908/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Having examined records held by my Department, I can confirm that a debt arising under a separate scheme was incurred by the person named.  This debt was netted against the advance payment under the 2020 Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme which recently issued to the person named, in accordance with the debt recovery procedures in place.

Outstanding debt amounts remaining may be collected by an instalment schedule upon agreement between my Department and the individual.  A member of staff of my Department will make contact with the named individual with regards to agreeing such a schedule.

Livestock Issues

Ceisteanna (1019)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

1019. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if restrictions on the herd of a person (details supplied) will be lifted; the reason for the delay; the status of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26940/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Discrepancies have been identified in the herd of the person named in relation to bovine animal identification and registration over the last number of years.  As a result of these findings, it was necessary to suspend the trading status of the herd. Correct identification and registration of bovine animals is a legal requirement under EU and Irish law.

The local Regional Veterinary Office was in contact with the herd keeper in July 2020 with a view to resolving these discrepancies.  DNA testing has been carried out on the relevant animals and currently my Department Officials are awaiting results of DNA tests. It is expected once results of the DNA tests are known, then the correlations and registrations of relevant animals can take place. Only when this happens will it be possible to lift the suspension on the herd.

The herd keeper was informed of this at a meeting in July 2020 with the local Senior Veterinary Inspector.

Departmental Correspondence

Ceisteanna (1020)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

1020. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if consideration will be given to the issues raised (details supplied) by a local authority in relation to correspondence issued by his Department to farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26964/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In line with a proposal from the TB Forum, my Department recently developed individualised reports that provide a simplified TB herd risk category for farmers, with herd-specific advice on how to reduce risk of TB.  Farmers are already provided with information in relation to their TB risk, but this new report presents this in a very much more user friendly, detailed and practical form. There are no requirements whatsoever resulting from the recent TB letters.  The objective of TB Herd Test History Statements and Reports that issued recently to all cattle herd owners is to help them to reduce the risk of Bovine TB in their herds and provide sufficient information to enable farmers to make the decisions appropriate to their situation. 

While bovine TB disease is low relative to historical levels, TB herd incidence and reactor numbers have been gradually increasing since 2016. The pace of deterioration has accelerated in 2020. Herd incidence at 4.2% is now at its highest level since 2012 while reactor numbers at 21,000 are back at 2009 rates.

Monaghan has witnessed firsthand the impact of rising TB levels and its effect on farmers and farming families. As of 22 September 2020, the 12 month rolling Herd incidence for Monaghan was 7.01%.  The Regional Veterinary Office has implemented a High Impact bTB Control Plan and is working with farmers and stakeholders to reduce levels of TB in Monaghan.

It is imperative that all stakeholders work together in reducing TB rates to support and protect farm families. The Bovine Tb stakeholder Forum, which was tasked with proposing policies to help achieve Tb eradication by 2030, will be reconvening on 1st October 2020 and I look forward to ongoing positive engagement from all participants.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (1021)

Marian Harkin

Ceist:

1021. Deputy Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the plans in place and the timeframe for same to reimburse Leitrim County Council for the cost of a report being undertaken to investigate the causes of the recent landslide on Shass Mountain, Drumkeerin, County Leitrim; if he will examine the next immediate steps necessary to deal with this catastrophic event; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26985/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

This is a matter in the first instance for the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. 

In response to this event, a Multi-Agency Group was established under the chairmanship of the Minister for Heritage at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.  Membership of this Multi-Agency Group includes, inter alia, members of Leitrim County Council, local representatives of Leitrim County Council, Oireachtas, Farm Bodies, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Inland Fisheries, Department of Transport, and academia (Universities).  My Department is also represented on this group.

Leitrim County Council has engaged specialist consultants to undertake a comprehensive examination on the cause of the landslide and the impact it has had on the natural and built environment, ecology, water quality and the farming community.  A smaller steering group was established to provide oversight for this study and my Department is also represented on this group.  The consultants report will be submitted to the Multi-Agency Group once the examination has concluded.

Affected farmers have been reassured that their scheme payments for 2020 are covered by the existing force majeure regulations in place. The terms and conditions for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme include provision for force majeure in such cases.   A number of farmers in the area have already been in contact with my Department in this regard.  Officials in my Department have undertaken preliminary mapping of the farming and forestry related impacts on the bog slide.

Where any farmer is concerned that this event might have an impact on their scheme payments, s/he should contact the Department to inform them of the circumstances of their own case and to provide any evidence of the impact on their own landholding (for example by providing Geotagged Photos).  Farmers can write to the Direct Payments Unit, Government Offices, Abbeyleix Road, Portlaoise or telephone 076 106 4420.  This will ensure that the Department is aware of cases which may be impacted and all such cases will be examined individually.

Land Parcel Identification System

Ceisteanna (1022, 1023)

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Ceist:

1022. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of the land parcel identification system in County Louth. [27010/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Ceist:

1023. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applicants that have had payments delayed due to issues in relation to the land parcel identification system in County Louth. [27011/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1022 and 1023 together.

The Department is progressing well with the development and rollout of the new Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS).  The LPIS is the Department’s land database which underpins payments to farmers under area-based schemes such as the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme (ANC), afforestation schemes, and the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS). The new LPIS is replacing the current 25 year old system.  

The overall objective is to ensure the most efficient delivery of €1.6 billion of EU funded scheme payments to applicants, in line with regulatory requirements.  The new LPIS gives farmers a more accurate representation of land parcel boundaries, and is based on the most up-to-date technologies and Ordnance Survey Ireland mapping standard. 

It was first introduced in Louth in 2019 and the roll out in Louth is now complete.  Rollout out to an additional five counties (Meath, Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, and Longford) is ongoing in 2020. Additional counties are on target to go live in the new system in 2021. 

In terms of payments in Louth based on the new LPIS, over 99.9% of cases in Louth have been paid their 2019 BPS. One case remains unpaid.  This is in line with the national average.  In mid-September, my Department commenced advance payments under the 2020 ANC scheme with €187m having now issued to over 87,000 farmers.  This is significantly ahead of payment rates for this stage in 2019 and payments in Louth are progressing in line with the national average.  Advance payments under the 2020 BPS are due to commence on 16 October, which is the earliest date allowed under EU Regulation.

Land Parcel Identification System

Ceisteanna (1024)

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Ceist:

1024. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if additional resources are being considered in relation to the roll out of the land parcel identification system in identified counties. [27012/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Department is progressing well with the development and rollout of the new Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS).  The LPIS is the Department’s land database which underpins payments to farmers under area-based schemes such as the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme (ANC), afforestation schemes, and the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS). The new LPIS is replacing the current 25 year old system.  

The overall objective is to ensure the most efficient delivery of €1.6 billion of EU funded scheme payments to applicants, in line with regulatory requirements.  The new LPIS gives farmers a more accurate representation of land parcel boundaries, and is based on the most up-to-date technologies and Ordnance Survey Ireland mapping standard. 

It was first introduced in Louth in 2019 and was rolled out to an additional five counties (Meath, Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, and Longford) in 2020. Additional counties are on target to go live in the new system in 2021. 

The roll out has been underpinned by a comprehensive communication campaign to help farmers understand the changeover to the new system.   This included regular correspondence and a comprehensive statement of land with details of the parcels held by the farmer, and the resultant changes to these parcels arising from the move to the new LPIS.  In addition, regional public information sessions were hosted by the Department in 2019 to inform farmers, agents and farm bodies of the transition to the new system.  However, in line with HSE advice, the information sessions scheduled for March 2020 were cancelled.  

Resources are in place and are subject to ongoing review and refinement, as appropriate to ensure an efficient and timely transition of all counties to the new system by 2022.

Further information on the LPIS as well as details relating to frequently asked questions can be found online at:

www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmerschemespayments/lpisrebuildproject/

Basic Payment Scheme

Ceisteanna (1025)

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Ceist:

1025. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applicants that have not received at least 30% of payment under the basic payment scheme due to issues with their application. [27013/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

There are currently 123,064 eligible applicants under the 2019 Basic Payment Scheme.  To date, 122,939 applicants have received a payment in full. There are 125 cases for which a payment remains to be issued under this scheme and this is for a variety of reasons.

Payment runs are continuing as cases clear. Where an applicant has outstanding correspondence from the Department regarding an issue, they should respond as soon as possible to facilitate payment. 

Advance payments under the 2020 BPS are due to commence on 16th  October.  This is the earliest payment date possible under EU regulations.

Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme

Ceisteanna (1026)

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Ceist:

1026. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applicants waiting on Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme approval. [27014/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

To date, a total of 42,295 applications have been received under TAMS II. There are currently 4,595 applications under consideration for approval under tranche 18 which closed on 21 August 2020 and which are currently undergoing administrative checks. We expect to be informing applicants of their result in the very near future.

All applications received in a given tranche are initially checked to ensure that all administrative issues are in order. Once this process is complete, a ranking and selection is carried out and all eligible applications selected for approval are further processed.

Ministerial Advisers

Ceisteanna (1027)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

1027. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a schedule of advisers and special advisers appointed and or recruited by him since his appointment will be provided; the roles and responsibilities attributed to each; and the salary for each appointee in tabular form. [27064/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

On the commencement of every Dáil, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform issues guidelines setting out the arrangements for the staffing of Ministerial Offices. The appointment of Special Advisors is subject to section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997.

I can confirm that neither Minister Heydon nor myself have appointed any advisers yet.

In accordance with Section 11 of the Act, Minister of State Hackett has appointed two special advisers dealing with Press and Policy respectively. 

The current salary scale for Ministerial Advisers is: Special Adviser (Principal Officer) €87,325, increasing to €89,072 from 1st October 2020. 

Additional information relating to the appointment of advisers is provided to the Oireachtas upon their appointment.

Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme

Ceisteanna (1028)

Neale Richmond

Ceist:

1028. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme application by a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27086/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The above named submitted an application under the Animal Welfare, Safety and Nutrient Storage Scheme (AWSNSS) which is one of the suite of seven measures available under TAMS II.

The application was approved on 2 October 2018 with all works to be completed by 2 October 2019, this date was extended to 2 April 2020 following submissions from the applicant concerned.

A payment claim was submitted on 4 February 2020. This claim is currently being processed.

Forestry Sector

Ceisteanna (1029, 1032)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

1029. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of the proposed timeline for the online portal for forestry appeals and information regarding its form; the information fields available; and the legacy and historical information available. [27121/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

1032. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of the proposed timeline for the online portal for forestry appeals; the information fields that will be available; and the legacy and historical information that will be available. [27206/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1029 and 1032 together.

The Deputy has asked for information on an online portal for forestry appeals.  The Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC) deals with appeals against decisions on forestry licences and is operationally independent of my Department.  They maintain their own website as part of the website of the Agriculture Appeals Office.  I understand the FAC began publishing documents online, earlier this year, in relation to forestry appeals.

Separately, my Department will shortly open a public online portal, the Forestry Licence Viewer (FLV), to make available forestry licence application information available to the public.  The FLV will include licence applications for afforestation, forest road works, tree felling and aerial fertilisation.  Those interested will be able to gain information on the operation proposed, the plot size, townland and county.  For afforestation the proposed species will be available.  Documents will be uploaded to the FLV, which will provide in-depth application information, including maps etc. Submissions received on applications will be made available through the FLV and other supporting documents such as assessments, Natura Impact Statements, and other reports where required.  Summary information on legacy cases will be available for decisions made since 1 January, 2018.

The Forestry Licence Viewer is intended to enhance public participation in the decision-making process by making much more information available to citizens during the 30 days, which is provided for public consultation in the licensing process, and to provide information for those who wish to appeal licensing decisions.

Tuberculosis Eradication Programme

Ceisteanna (1030)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

1030. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the resolution passed by Monaghan County Council (details supplied) will be reviewed; if the request will receive a response; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27144/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In line with a proposal from the TB Forum, my Department recently developed individualised reports that provide a simplified TB herd risk category for farmers, with herd-specific advice on how to reduce risk of TB.  Farmers are already provided with information in relation to their TB risk, but this new report presents this in a very much more user friendly, detailed and practical form. There are no requirements whatsoever resulting from the recent TB letters.  The objective of TB Herd Test History Statements and Reports that issued recently to all cattle herd owners is to help them to reduce the risk of Bovine TB in their herds and provide sufficient information to enable farmers to make the decisions appropriate to their situation. 

While bovine TB disease is low relative to historical levels, TB herd incidence and reactor numbers have been gradually increasing since 2016. The pace of deterioration has accelerated in 2020. Herd incidence at 4.2% is now at its highest level since 2012 while reactor numbers at 21,000 are back at 2009 rates.

Monaghan has witnessed firsthand the impact of rising TB levels and its effect on farmers and farming families. As of 22 September 2020, the 12 month rolling Herd incidence for Monaghan was 7.01%.  The Regional Veterinary Office has implemented a High Impact bTB Control Plan and has worked endlessly to reduce levels of TB in Monaghan.

It is imperative that all stakeholders work together in reducing TB rates to support and protect farm families. The Bovine Tb stakeholder Forum, which was tasked with proposing policies to help achieve Tb eradication by 2030, will be reconvening on 1st October 2020 and I look forward to ongoing positive engagement from all participants.