AN EDERNEY beef farmer who was closed with bTB for most of last year has hit out at plans to reduce TB compensation. 

Last month, a DAERA consultation on reducing the amount paid to farmers who have TB reactors in their herds was officially closed. 

Proposals include reducing the amount paid to 90 per cent of the value of the animal in the first year of implementation, and 75 per cent a year later.

This will drastically reduce the amount paid to farmers who are forced to cull cattle due to bTB and has been met with stern opposition from the farming community. 

John McGuire, who runs a herd of 45 suckler cows near Ederney, said the proposals are "ludicrous". 

"Trying to reduce TB compensation is wrong, plain and simple," he said. "I honestly can't see why, when inflation is running close to 13 per cent, farmers must have compensation reduced. If anything, the payments should rise in line with inflation. 

"What other industry would be asked to take a deduction at a time like this? They talk about a cost of living crisis, and for farmers, costs are through the roof. How are farmers expected to accept this?

"At present, the compensation just about covers continental stock, but doesn't cover the loss of production and other aspects. For those with pedigree stock and great bloodlines, it won't even come close."

Mr. McGuire added: "How can any civil servant look at the rate of inflation and with a straight face expect farmers to take even one per cent less in compensation?"

According to Mr. McGuire, bTB is a persistent issue in his area, with either himself or the farmers around him closed at any one time. 

Last year, he was closed for a total of eight months, which he said presented issues with cash flow and resulted in unnecessary stress. 

"As a beef farmer, when you are closed you lose your income," he said. "Dairy men are different, they have their monthly cheque, but for us, if we have nothing to sell, there is no money coming in. 

"The only option is the factory, but you are snookered if you haven't anything ready. You can't take a six-month-old calf to the factory."

Mr. McGuire also hit out at what he regards as "outdated testing" carried out by DAERA, which he said, "simply isn't working".

"I'm no scientist, but you don't have to be to know that the current system of testing isn't working," he said.

"There needs to be a more common-sense approach. 

"How is it just that a man with say, 1,000 cattle, has his herd completely closed up over the head of one reactor?"