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Coveney announces commencement of the compulsory phase of the Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) eradication programme.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD today announced the launch of the compulsory Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) Programme at the Animal Health Ireland stand at the National Ploughing Championships.

 

The compulsory phase of the programme, which will commence on 1st January 2013, follows on from the successful operation of the voluntary phase of the programme in the course of 2012. The BVD virus is estimated to cost Irish cattle farmers in excess of €100 million each year. Minister Coveney congratulated Animal Health Ireland on its work to date and paid tribute to its BVD Implementation Group (BVDIG) representing all stakeholders, which had designed and developed the operational aspects of the BVD programme. The Minister said “The collaborative approach that underpins the work of Animal Health Ireland has been critical in advancing the compulsory programme and I am delighted that there was such overwhelming support for this initiative by all the stakeholders, most particularly the farm organisations”.

 

The Minister confirmed that he had taken the decision to introduce the necessary legislative and control framework to support such a compulsory programme at the request of the BVDIG following the success of the voluntary programme which was in place for 2012 and where in excess of 450,000 calves were tested. According to the Minister, “the voluntary phase had provided invaluable information in putting in place the building blocks for the compulsory programme. For the industry to achieve the full and sustainable benefit from the efforts to eradicate this disease from Ireland, to eliminate this €100 million annual cost to farmers generally, making the programme compulsory was a necessary strategic and logical step, otherwise those not participating were putting the significant efforts of their colleagues at risk”.

 

The key elements of the compulsory programme is new legislation requiring that all calves born on or after 1st January 2013 be tested for the BVD virus, a ban on the movement/sale of all such animals unless they have a negative result for BVD and some specific arrangements in respect of follow up testing where a persistently infected animal is identified. As these are regulations with trade implications, the EU Commission is being consulted in the normal course. Minister Coveney added that the compulsory phase of the programme can now proceed following the announcement of the completion of the tender process for the supply of the new official tissue tag which will be critical to the success of the programme. This allows for the capture of samples for testing as part of the routine tagging requirement of all bovines. For the majority of farmers, the compulsory programme strategy involves 3 years of tissue tagging, with follow up in respect of animals linked  to what are termed  ‘persistently infected’ (PI) animals, followed up by 3 years of monitoring. Those farmers participating in the voluntary phase of the programme have almost completed the first of the three initial years of the compulsory programme.

 

Concluding, the Minister said “I welcome the fact that Animal Health Ireland is arranging a series of information meetings around the Country in the coming months to disseminate details of what the programme entails and the steps necessary to comply fully with this very important programme for the livestock sector of Irish farming and for its future profitability”.

 

ENDS

Date Released: 27 September 2012