Current proposals to change the levels of TB compensation are akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, according to Mr. Pat McCormack, Deputy President and Chairperson of ICMSA’s Dairy Committee and the losses being suffered by farmers will be no less than they are currently under the new proposals. The proposal for budget neutral adjustments will simply not work and completely fail to recognise the financial hardship imposed on individual farmers who are unfortunate enough to suffer a TB outbreak and additional funding will have to be made available particularly for dairy farmers whose losses are most acute and totally unsustainable for some farmers in particular for those who are restricted for long periods.
It should also be noted that the contribution from dairy farmers through levies will be increased substantially this year with the increased level of milk production and we need to get to a stage where a farmer who is unfortunate enough to suffer a TB outbreak is adequately financially supported while restricted and sufficiently resourced to restock his/her farm when the restriction is lifted. Currently, the income supplement for dairy cows stands at €25 per cow per month. The proposed increase to €45 is still not anywhere close to the compensation needed compared to the losses incurred in particular during the peak milk production months. A dairy farmer whose loses cows as reactors in March for example is effectively losing the complete lactation of that cow. The compensation should be based on the month of start of the lactation and compensation paid accordingly to reimburse the losses adequately.
The further decision to reduce the depopulation grant smacks of a balancing act to remain budget neutral and fails to recognise the challenge of restocking a herd and the fact that the farmer in question effectively has no income from farming during the depopulation period. This cannot be accepted in any form as the mental and monetary losses from a TB depopulation are not at all reflected in the current rates of depopulation grants. The proposed significant reduction in payment for EBI herds is an insult to those that have invested heavily in breeding programmes over the years to improve their genetic merit. For a cow with an EBI of 200, the proposal represents a loss of €224 and this simply cannot be tolerated and highlights a complete failure of the Department to recognise the heavy losses being suffered by farmers.
The TB compensation regime is clearly out of date and Mr. McCormack concluded by calling on the Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine to intervene and put in place a compensation regime that adequately compensates for the losses being suffered by farmers at this time.
ENDS. 6 November 2015
Pat McCormack is at (087) 7608958.