Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has called on the Minister for Agriculture to outline how he intends to finance the additional TB testing required of farmers.
“The failure of the Minister or his officials to engage with farmer representatives on how the extra mandatory testing would be finances is not good enough.
“More than anything farmers need certainty. Why can’t the Minister or his officials outline their plans to representatives via the TB forum?
“Farmers have always been willing partners in the TB Eradication Programme and have played their part. The introduction of a new regime around testing in order to comply with EU regulations. In developing its approach the Department needs to outline its plans and engage with farmer representatives. Farmers are already under pressure from increased input costs, coupled with a pricing approach from buyers that leaves a lot to be desired.
“The suspicion is that Minister McConalogue expects farmers to pay for the additional testing themselves, and this is why neither he nor his officials will engage on the issue. We need to see a return to dialogue on this issue and an open-minded approach taken by Government, that is understanding of the pressures farmers are under.”