Additional testing of cattle must be paid for by department

PRE/POST movement testing rules for breeding stock has not been agreed to by farm organisations in the absence of full payment for this by the Department of Agriculture.

ICSA animal health and welfare chair Hugh Farrell has also clarified that farmers should continue to sell cattle in the mart and that they are entitled to sell whether or not the herd was tested in the past six months.

He commented: “In the case of any animal for finishing, such as a cull cow, testing is not compulsory for either seller or buyer. This is because the animal will end up going for slaughter anyway when finished.

“The issue only arises in the case of an animal that is being bought for breeding purposes, such as an in-calf cow or a breeding bull. In these cases, the seller may choose to test but it is not compulsory. The buyer will have to test those animals.”

Mr. Farrell emphasised that, after a long battle, most cattle sold in marts will not be affected by these changes.

“This will not be even an issue for herds selling animals that have had a herd test in the past six months and it will not affect animals sold for finishing nor will it affect younger animals that haven’t calved in its current iteration.

“While ICSA does not want to accept any additional burden on farmers in terms of testing, the reality is that the EU Animal Health Law has tied our hands.

“After months of talks, the movement testing of cattle has been pushed back to cover only breeding animals in essence; coming from herds that are more than six months from their herd test.

“In recent weeks, there has been heavy negotiations on payment for any testing and the ICSA position is very clear - the fundamental principle that farmers only pay for one herd test a year cannot be breached and any additional testing will have to be funded by the department.

“However, ICSA is standing steadfast to its position that the department must pay for the additional testing.”