The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says DAERA have confirmed that farmers do not have to carry out tuberculosis (TB) testing during the COVID-19 outbreak if they have health concerns. In the last number of days, the UFU has been inundated by calls from members who are extremely vulnerable to the illness or have family members in the high-risk category. Numerous farmers are self-isolating and are apprehensive about TB testing being carried out due to the perceived transmission risk that the test would pose. The UFU communicated these concerns and DAERA have taken these on board.
In support of this DAERA Minister Edwin Poots, announced that cross compliance penalties would not occur for late TB tests associated with COVID-19 and restrictions on the movement of animals direct to slaughter from herds with overdue tests, have been suspended.
Commenting on DAERA’s TB testing announcement, UFU deputy president David Brown said, “The UFU office has been inundated by calls from farmers who are extremely concerned about the risk of COVID-19 transmission during TB testing. The Minister has shown his support for our farmers by reassuring them that they do not have to carry out TB testing if they have health concerns. If they cannot arrange for an alternative person to present their animals for a TB test, they can reschedule without worrying about the implications of the test being overdue. DAERA will not refer producers with an overdue TB test because of COVID-19 for a cross compliance breach and have relaxed restrictions on animals from herds with overdue tests moving directly to slaughter. Herd restrictions on overdue animals moving from herd to herd will remain in place to prevent the spread of TB to other herds throughout Northern Ireland.
“There are numerous UFU members who want to test livestock to clear the disease from their herds and have the test scheduled because they want it done before summer grazing. Enabling TB testing to continue where farmers are supportive of it, will help to maintain the integrity of the food chain.”
Where producers do wish to continue with their TB test, we would advise them to follow the current medical advice and maintain appropriate social distancing measures (two metres) at all costs.