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Animal Diseases

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Ceisteanna (770)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

770. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the obligations placed on farmers to facilitate TB inspections in the event that a farmer has demonstrated two clear test results in one year and in which neighbouring herds have already tested clear; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61353/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The current requirement in place under EU and national legislation, and that has been in place since the 1960s, is that all herds undergo at least one annual herd screening test.

In herds where disease is suspected or confirmed, this will result in extra tests until my Department officials are satisfied that all relevant TB measures specific to that herd / area have been fulfilled.

Further risk-based TB tests are also deployed as an effective means of finding disease and thus preventing onward spread of undetected infections.

For example, in 2020 contiguous tests - those on herds that are at the time unrestricted but situated close to currently infected herds - were 4.7 times more likely to be positive than routine screening tests. Herds that have been recently derestricted must carry out additional risk-based tests in the period after they go clear, which are dependent on the risk level of their breakdown. This reflects the fact that these herds have a higher risk of breakdown that other herds.

The reasons for TB in certain herds and areas are multi-factorial and require a range of measures to address the issue, which may include contiguous programmes, gamma interferon blood testing, cleansing and disinfection, other risk-based TB tests, and isolation of reactors. Each TB outbreak is investigated by a veterinary inspector to identify the source of infection.

Earlier this year, I launched the new Bovine TB Eradication Strategy 2021-2030. TB levels in 2021 are likely to be lower than in 2020. This will be the first annual decrease in TB since levels starting rising in 2016. Herd incidence in the 12 months to 5th December 2021 was 4.31% compared to 4.37% on the corresponding date last year, and the number of reactors in the 12 months to 5th December 2021 was 20,752, compared to 22,782 on the corresponding date last year, a decrease of over 2,000 reactors. This is evidence that the new policies implemented under the TB strategy, supported by the TB Forum, are starting to have an effect.

I am acutely aware of the financial and emotional burden that is placed on a family farm as a consequence of a herd breakdown. I am committed to driving down TB rates and I believe we are in a position to make positive inroads.

Question No. 771 answered with Question No. 766.
Question No. 772 answered with Question No. 766.
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