The cost of tackling TB in Irish herds is set to rise again this year. Photo: Thomas Hubert

€100m a year, EU reprimands, “negative trade impacts” and hard questions for agriculture: the mounting cost of bovine TB

Officials have warned the new minister for agriculture of rising tuberculosis infections in Irish herds, despite scientific progress and increased spending. The reason? Too many cows.

29th Jul, 2020 - 5 min read

Ask any cattle farmer what keeps them awake at night, and the most likely answer you will get is a failed TB test. The dreaded lump under an animal’s skin means it has been exposed to the disease. There is no cure and the entire farm is placed in lockdown for further tests while the so-called reactor is slaughtered. This was the fate of 17,000 Irish cattle last year, according to briefing documents prepared by officials for new Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary.

Taxpayers and the industry threw €92 million at the disease in 2019. Farmers themselves paid €28 million for the bulk of annual testing, as well as levies on beef and milk contributing €7.5...

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