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New Bovine TB Partnership To Eradicate TB Says O’Neill
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Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill today announced her plans to establish a government / industry Strategic Partnership to develop a long term strategy to eradicate TB from the cattle population in the North.

The Minister made her announcement as she updated the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on a range of current issues.dn_screen

Minister O’Neill said that the new Strategic Partnership would be in place by the end of the year, with the associated strategy to be produced within 12 months of the establishment of the Partnership. She explained: “Eradication of TB is a key priority for me. I want this strategy, which will be jointly owned by government and the industry, to be all embracing and address all the issues such as TB compensation; improving biosecurity; improving communications with farmers and vets; and developing our ability to address the wildlife factor. The strategy should also seek to re-energise relationships with all industry stakeholders; consider as appropriate the enhancement of primary and secondary legislation; and consider other means to tackle and eradicate the disease.

“I do not want to pre-empt what will be in this long term strategy, but I do want to be in a position to support and help implement the various elements. To this end my officials will be trying to ensure that everything is put in place to support any proposals which may come forward.”

The Minister also informed the Committee that from 1 January 2014 cross-compliance penalties will be applied to 1% of herdkeepers selected for inspection when their annual TB herd test is overdue by one month, rather than three months at present.

On the current “Test and Vaccinate or Remove (TVR)” wildlife intervention research project the Minister reported:“Good progress has been made on the badger sett surveying in the selected areas to date. Subject to approval of the associated business case and securing the necessary licences and funding required, the actual TVR fieldwork will begin in mid 2014.

“I must stress that TVR is an intervention research project and, as such, it is not possible to pre-empt the outcome. However, the evidence produced by this research should be able to provide us with an indication of how effective TVR could be as part of a longer term TB eradication strategy.”