Cattle Magazine Veterinary NI vet shortage: Poots insists new TB strategy is ‘a priority’ –

NI vet shortage: Poots insists new TB strategy is ‘a priority’ –

Fears Northern Ireland’s bovine TB woes could yet again be put on the backburner have been dismissed by Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots.

Speaking to AgriLand, Minister Poots said: “The TB programme is a priority and we will be launching our TB strategy over the course of the coming weeks.

The appropriate veterinarians will be there to support that and move forward because it is something that we cannot continue to do.

“In terms of ensuring that we will continue to meet all of our requirements, that’s why we will keep driving and driving to have absolute minimisation [of checks] between us and GB.

“My view is that there shouldn’t be any at all, but because of the protocol, and because of Westminster voting this through, we have to have something but we are driving for a minimalist approach, and consequently, we should need less staff to do it.”

Bovine TB herd incidence has fallen slightly in the region since it peaked in November 2017 at 9.73%, but the latest figures show it remains at around 8%.

Herd incidence measures the number of new reactor herds during the last 12 months as a proportion of cattle herds which have presented cattle for a TB herd test over the same period.

The latest figures also show that in the first six months of the year, breakdowns