IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell said the work of the TB Forum Implementation group is critical to the successful development of the objectives in the TB strategy.
The group will consist of Department of Agriculture staff and farmer representatives, under an independent chairman, who will meet to discuss and agree upon the most appropriate approach to implementing the objectives of the TB strategy.
Mr. Farrell said this is the most important piece of the jigsaw in developing and rolling out the new TB strategy, as this is where science and practical implementation will be aligned to minimise the impact on farmer livelihoods and the management of their farms.
“For far too long, we have had a top-down approach from the Department of Agriculture in the TB programme, with little or no regard for the impact of their controls on farm families or their livelihoods. The new strategy must deliver on its commitments in this regard, and ensure the views of farmers – who are the only stakeholders that will be impacted by these decisions – are taken on board.
“In developing any programme or business plan, the first issue to be addressed is always the funding. This is no different for the TB programme. It’s a fundamental requirement that this issue be resolved. It’s not credible to seek to finalise a programme without sight of the resources that will be available to it,” he said.
The IFA Chairman has called for the Financial Technical Working Group to be convened in the first instance and the issues of funding of the programme and financial supports to be addressed.
Mr. Farrell said the Department would be “putting the cart ahead of the horse” if they push ahead with imposing a new programme on farmers without any agreement on the key financial issues. He called on the Minister to ensure his officials implement the terms and the sentiment of the new TB Strategy.