MR ROBIN SWANN MLA, the Ulster Unionist Party North Antrim Assemblyman and UUP Chief Whip, has urged the DUP Farming Minister “to explain what measures she has in place to ensure that the continuation of the TVR scheme should bovine tuberculosis vaccines become scarce”.
Assemblyman Swann, the UUP Chief Whip and member of the Stormont Agriculture Committee, is a Past President of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster and his challenge to the Minister came following a question to her.
Assemblyman Swann had asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs whether she can confirm that her Department has access to sufficient supplies of Bovine TB vaccine to ensure the TVR scheme can continue uninterrupted to the end of 2017.
Responding to Assemblyman Swann, the Minister said: “Vaccine used in the TVR project is a BCG vaccine (BadgerBCG), which aims to protect against the bacteria that causes bovine tuberculosis.
“I cannot confirm that my Department will have access to sufficient supplies of BadgerBCG ensuring the uninterrupted continuation of TVR in 2017.
“Given the re-prioritisation of global supplies by the World Health Organisation (WHO) my officials had to source expired BadgerBCG from the Welsh Government for use in TVR during 2016.
“Currently, in light of continuing unavailability of BadgerBCG, my officials are looking into a number of options for TVR in Year 4 and are hopeful of securing enough vaccine doses for TVR fieldwork in 2017,” the Minister told Mr Swann.
Mr Swann added: “The Minister and her Department need to get their act in gear when it comes to the serious task of combatting bovine TB.
“I sincerely hope the Minister will not be coming back to us in the future with a statement saying the TVR scheme has had to be cut short, which would be a major set back on our farms who are struggling against TB,” said Assemblyman Swann