The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, has announced the Brucellosis testing programme for 2013.
Announcing these arrangements, the Minister said that he was making three changes to the testing programme for 2013 which, he said, would save farmers some €3m in testing fees per annum.
These were as follows: the percentage of non-dairy herds required to be tested will be reduced from 50% to 20%; the age threshold for the pre-movement test will be increased from 18 months to 24 months; the one sale Brucellosis rule will be abolished.
The other elements of the testing programme, including the milk elisa test and the cow monitoring scheme, will remain in place. Minister Coveney said that the changes mean that only 20% of the herds in the country will be subject to the annual round test in 2013. This, he said, was an important step in the context of the gradual scaling down of the testing programme which had commenced in 2009 when Ireland was declared officially free of Brucellosis. The Minister said that, as a result of the changes made to the testing regime since the achievement of officially Brucellosis free status in 2009, the number of cattle required to be tested in 2012 had fallen by approximately 2.8m. The effect of the changes being made for 2013 would be to reduce the number of animals tested by a further 550,000. Minister Coveney said that the savings to farmers in terms of reduced testing fees in 2013 was estimated at approximately €13m per annum compared with 2008, the last year prior to the achievement of Brucellosis free status.
Concluding, Minister Coveney emphasised that the scaling down of the testing programme was possible only because Ireland had been granted officially brucellosis-free status at EU level in 2009. He urged farmers to continue to be vigilant, particularly in relation to sourcing their stock requirements. He added that the continuing existence of disease on the island, albeit at a progressively reducing level, obliged him to continue to adopt a cautious approach to the scaling down of the controls. His decision has been taken following consultations with the farm organisations and he thanked them for their constructive approach.