Farmers say cut in Bovine TB compensation for cattle would be 'catastrophic'

The farming community say any reduction in compensation payments for cattle they lose to bovine tuberculosis would be 'catastrophic' to the industry.

The cuts are proposed as part of a range of measures including a cull of badgers to tackle the disease which costs the taxpayer as much as £40 million every year.

"We do not want to avail of this compensation. It's not compensation - it's stock value that you get paid for your stock," Andrew, a beef farmer Andrew McCammond from Templepatrick says.

Andrew McCammond says any reduction in compensation would be 'catastrophic.' Credit: UTV

"The stock values are paid when the cattle are forcibly removed because of TB. No farmer wants to avail of this money.

"We don't want TB - we want the Department and every other party involved to work hard to eradicate this disease."

There are also proposals for a cull of badgers which can carry bovine TB.

Almost 13,000 members of the public have signed a petition to oppose the cull.

The Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA) now says it will seek legal advice to challenge the department through the courts if it goes ahead with what they've described as an ''indiscriminate slaughter of a protected species.'

Wildlife groups also insist the main spread is between cattle and other options such as vaccination must be explored.

"We're definitely not in favour of any sort of free shooting or a widespread cull," says Jennifer Fulton, the CEO of Ulster Wildlife.

Jennifer Fulton Credit: UTV

"There are TVR vaccination which could offer a very viable alternatives and satisfy both farmers and conservation charities.

"We're hoping that a balanced solution can be found that meets the needs of everyone in a much more publicly acceptable without any indiscriminate culling of one of our key species within Northern Ireland." However, the Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has defended the approach of his Department.

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots Credit: UTV

"Last month I launched a public consultation on proposals for a new bovine Tuberculosis Eradication Strategy the aim of which is to set Northern Ireland on the path to eradication. International experience has shown that it is essential to tackle all of the factors involved with both the maintenance and spread of this terrible disease, if we are to achieve our ultimate goal, of eradication. “Importantly the consultation outlines my Department’s proposals for a range of initiatives relating to cattle measures, herd health management and new governance structures as part of an overall Strategy," Mr Poots says.

"It also contains my Departmental proposals on wildlife intervention and changes to the compensation regime for the TB Programme. It is on these proposals that I am keen to hear from farmers, stakeholders and the wider public. “Only then will I take final decisions on a way forward – considering the responses to the consultation and the best scientific evidence available.”