Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

TB Eradication Programme: Discussion

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I thank our guests for their presentations. No more than Senator Paul Daly, I want to hear our guests' thoughts about the forum and what they think it has achieved.

Has anything been addressed through the forum in the line of hardship money? I know that people with a small farm might be working and, because they are working, they are out the door, so to speak.

I will address the issue of the badgers and deer. There were eight or nine deer, eight or nine years ago, one of which went down with TB, and they were all got rid of at the time.

Let everyone who is watching understand this. We are not saying that we need to get rid of every deer in the country, but if they were allowed to run wild and loose, they would take over a country. Everything in moderation, even moderation itself. We must make sure there is a certain amount of culling every year, especially in the blackspots.

The pygmy deer is a new deer in our country that I think originated from the East. It has landed into places in Ireland and is causing more problems even than TB by frightening the daylights out of people.

What are the views of our guests on forestry? Do they think the two things are running hand in hand?

I would like the thoughts of our guests on the following. I have seen people who have been zero grazing over the past two or three years. The cows would not be going out at all and large parts of their herds have gone down, which is baffling. I do not know if the problem is the fresh grass that is coming in, or whatever. Has any research been done on that?

We keep hearing there is plenty of money for destocking. On the other side of it, I know one farmer who lost 40 cows and then lost 16 more. A person must cut to the chase, sooner or later, and decide if he or she is going to destock. At this time of year, considering the lengths to which a farmer has to go to stay destocked, he or she will be looking at next year, to put it simply. Will he or she be back milking or another type of farming? Farmers seem to be dragging their feet and saying that Dublin has to decide. Dublin is getting the blame for it, that it is not coming up with the money. Are our guests hearing that and facing it? Are clear decisions being made around the country?

I agree with Deputy Cahill about testing. There is a lot of uncertainty. An animal could be sent to a factory, or whatever, and they could be told they had lesions even though they were clear on a test. There could be another animal for which nothing showed up and, a few months later, it is a different story. Many farmers just cannot get their heads around what is happening with the whole TB scenario.


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