Shocking Figures Of TB In Fermanagh Herds

The incidence of bovine TB in livestock herds in Fermanagh increased to 11.55 per cent last year – well above the Northern Ireland average.

In addition, over the past five years, more than 11,000 cattle have been removed from local farms as they were confirmed or suspected of being infected with TB.

These alarming figures are contained in a report compiled by a candidate for Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Mark Ovens, from the UUP.

The candidate for Erne West stated: “TB is a plague of disease that has been wreaking havoc and causing real financial and mental hardship for farmers for far too long.

“For years, the Department of Agriculture has said tackling bovine TB is one of its top priorities. A range of initiatives, plans and taskforces have come and gone, leaving behind endless amounts of research and statistics.

“Over the past 20 years, many hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ pounds have been spent on trying to tackle the disease, with the latest figures showing it’s costing the Northern Ireland public purse around £1m every single week.

Some alarming figures have been compiled in a new report about bovine TB in the area. Stock image

“Many farmers across Fermanagh have long since lost patience with the delays and excuses. It’s known widely that the level of the disease locally is higher now than it’s been for some time.

“Indeed, the rates of TB in cattle across Northern Ireland are also now at their highest level in 20 years.

“From my own perspective, it’s also an issue that has caused me real frustration over the years.

“After engaging with many farmers from right across west and south Fermanagh in recent weeks and months, and detecting the now palpable sense of anger in the county about the disease, I contacted DAERA to ascertain the true scale of the problem here in Fermanagh.

“I was shocked to be informed that, last year alone – 2022 – some 2,941 cattle were removed and slaughtered from Fermanagh’s farms because of the disease, and over £4.8m had to be paid out in compensation.

“In the five years from 2018 to 2022, a total of 11,317 cattle in the county have been slaughtered, and over £16.3m paid out in compensation.

“Many more millions will have been spent on top of that, delivering the testing programme.

“Whilst the compensation does provide a degree of financial support for farmers, the vast majority of farmers would much rather have the alternative of a disease-free herd any day.

“A detection of TB reactor not only sounds the death knell of that animal, but it also places hugely disruptive restrictions on the entire farm business.

“It impacts cash flow, it hugely disrupts the operation of the farm, and quite often it sees large numbers of hugely productive cattle, shaped from years of selective breeding and careful rearing, ripped out from the herd.

“We’re exactly one year on from the publication of the eradication strategy, and whilst there has been some reasonable engagement with the sector, due to the collapse of the NI Executive last year, the strategy has shamefully still to be finalised and rolled out,” he added.

(Source – Impartial Reporter – Farming – Brian Donaldson – 19/03/2023)

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