The correlation between rising TB numbers and staff shortages in the Department of Agriculture's wildlife control programme cannot be denied, Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) animal health chair TJ Maher has said.

He has expressed serious concern at the Department’s failure to implement a successful wildlife control programme that can make a meaningful impact on TB levels.

He stressed how the number of TB reactors in Ireland has increased to almost 30,000.

“It`s ridiculous to think that additional funding for the hiring of FRS operatives to the wildlife control programme was committed by the Department of Agriculture last March and yet this still hasn’t translated to the hiring of staff on the ground,” he said.


The Department of Agriculture recently revealed to the TB implementation working group that they are understaffed by over 13 technical agricultural officers throughout the country with responsibility for implementing the wildlife control programme.

"The Department has already acknowledged that TB is at a critical juncture in this country, but progress won’t be made if the Department doesn’t put the personnel on the ground,” he said.

The Department, he added, would be serving farmers a lot better with the effective implementation of the wildlife control programme centred on density reduction.

"When done well in the past, it made a substantial impact in reducing TB levels.

"Unfortunately, the eye has been taken off the ball by the Department and, as a result, farmers are paying a high price.

"Substantial changes and some significant enhancements have been agreed by the stakeholders in the TB programme, but the majority of these have either not been implemented or in a very ad hoc manner in regional veterinary offices throughout the country," he continued.


In order to start making a meaningful impact on reducing TB numbers and reducing the burden of the controls on farmers, the Department must focus on providing an effective, fully-resourced programme, Maher concluded.