Brendan Smith calls for improved compensation payment levels for cattle and herds depopulated by TB

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith, has called for an improvement on the compensation payment levels for cattle and herds that are depopulated due to TB.

Speaking in a debate with Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “It is devastating for a farmer when his or her herd has to be partially or totally depopulated. We know that herds are built up over a considerable length of time. There is a big investment and big commitment by the individual farmer, and we do not switch on or off the breeding or development of herds. The current compensation levels do not reflect the reality of the prices paid in marts today.”

In response, Minister McConalogue stated: “I thank Deputy Brendan Smith for raising this issue and for his ongoing advocacy on behalf of the farming community. As part of the work of the TB forum, a dedicated financial working group comprising representatives from my Department and the farming organisations was established 16 months ago to review the current financial model of the TB programme. Its remit includes a review of compensation schemes with respect to all types of bovine herds. Recommendations from the finance working group will be submitted to the TB forum for consideration.”

Cavan and Monaghan TD Brendan Smith urged the Minister to ask the working group to expedite its work, adding: “I have concerns about the compensation being adequate for pedigree cattle. Those of us who were reared on farms and represent rural communities take great pride in looking at quality animals at our shows every year and in visiting individual farmers. I have a concern that valuable pedigree lines could be lost. 

“I know of some individual farmers who win national awards every year and would have a number of substantive pedigree herds. If they are unfortunate enough to have a partial or total depopulation, it will mean financial ruin for them. We need to address that particular matter. I emphasise again that our farmers have built up quality herds over the years. When disease comes into a herd it is, to use a phrase we have often heard, like a death in the family. Farmers take such pride in the work on their farms and in building up herds and having the quality produce we all champion in this country. We talk about the quality of the food we export to so many countries throughout the world. We need to ensure the primary producer is adequately compensated to meet all costs.”

Minister McConalogue confirmed that he had asked that all of the work be completed as quickly as possible, explaining: “The working group will meet at the end of this month and I look forward to progress being made there. Overall, we can take heart from the fact that by everyone working together in the TB forum and by agreeing the new TB strategy, we are making progress. We can make real progress on that in the time ahead by coming together and working together. The financial aspects of that are important and the finance working group is considering those in detail. It will produce its report very soon and I am looking forward to that.”