The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., convened a meeting of the TB Forum today, Thursday 1st October, by video conference. Minister Heydon also attended the meeting which was chaired by Michael Cronin.
The TB Stakeholder Forum brings key stakeholders together, with the common objective of reducing bovine TB levels. The Minister thanked Forum members for their commitment to date in developing proposals consistent with the ambition of eradication.
Commenting on the positive and constructive engagement, he said,
It is important that stakeholders work in partnership to address rising disease levels. The presence of TB in our National herd, albeit at an extremely low level, gives rise to significant costs for farmers and taxpayers. It also increases administrative complexity and bureaucracy, and is a significant disadvantage when it comes to meeting certification specifications in export markets. If we want to reduce the burden on farmers, our objective has to be to eradicate the disease. We have succeeded in obtaining Brucellosis Free status by taking decisive action and working together. It won’t be easy, but we can do the same with TB, provided we are prepared to work together and take the necessary steps.
Minister McConalogue paid tribute to the previous efforts of farmers and farm bodies and his Department, that succeeded in bringing TB levels to historically low levels. In addressing more recent increases in TB, the Minister said,
There was an immediate need for to redouble the effort, to drive disease incidence down.
Speaking after the meeting, Minister Martin Heydon spoke of the significant impact a TB restriction can have at farm level,
I know the impact that an outbreak of TB can have on a farm family. That is why we need to do everything we can to contain this disease and eradicate it. With that in mind It is important that we maintain the positive momentum from today’s meeting and agree a common path forward on how best to reduce TB levels.
Concluding, Minister McConalogue said that he was keen that the Forum should re-engage as soon as possible, and reflected on the importance of charting a way forward with renewed energy and urgency.
The Programme for Government commits to developing a TB eradication strategy. I will be sharing a draft document with stakeholders within weeks, and inviting stakeholders to submit their views in writing or through bilateral meetings with my officials. Once that process is completed, I will ask the Chairman to convene another meeting of the TB Stakeholder Forum in November to in order to agree a way forward.