Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Animal Health Ireland Strategic Plan 2015 to 2017: Discussion
I welcome the delegation from Animal Health Ireland. Even though the organisation was only established in 2009, it has had a remarkable effect on the agricultural industry.
I wish to speak about the BVD eradication and the Johne's disease issue. BVD eradication has been a remarkable success. From the farmers' point of view the ease of tagging has worked out very well. There was great concern about the PIs staying on farms. The change in the past few months regarding farmers being notified of a PI on a neighbour's farm has helped somewhat because that had to happen. It made no logical sense for PIs to be left on farms and defeated the whole purpose of the programme. Given the success of the BVD eradication programme, one would be hopeful that we will be BVD free by 2020.
The other side of the coin is the Johne's disease issue. I will not speak much on the Johne's disease issue, which is one of the key issues in the dairy industry. I know co-operatives such as Carbery in west County Cork have been very proactive in trying to deal with this. It is key to get buy-in right now so we have a national programme. Education is key for calf rearing. We need to work to ensure we do not spread that disease through the national herd. I ask Mr. O'Flaherty to outline the next steps in introducing a programme similar to the BVD eradication programme. When does Mr. O'Flaherty believe the national herd will be free of Johne's disease?
Has there been any input from the Northern Ireland authorities regarding an all-island approach to Johne's disease, given the amount of milk that flows in both directions in the Border counties? It is one of the major issues facing the agriculture industry. We need to learn from the pilot programme, but it was only a pilot. The next step is to put in place a national programme. How confident is Mr. O'Flaherty that Animal Health Ireland will be able to get the funding to establish a national eradication programme with a view to being able to declare ourselves Johne's free?