Paddy McGuckian, principal veterinary officer at the Department of Agriculture (DAERA) has called TB fraud a “drain on the public purse” and said the crime was “frequent enough” to warrant investigation.
The extent of TB fraud in Northern Ireland is currently unknown, however a County Tyrone farmer became the first person to be convicted of the crime on Monday (1 October). The convicted was fined £450 plus a £15 offenders levy.
Bovine TB is one of the largest animal health issues facing farmers with one in 10 herds testing positive for the disease. The Northern Irish government expects to spend £40m tackling bovine TB in 2017/18, with farmers compensated 100% of the market value of all animals that need to be slaughtered.
McGuckian added that TB fraud was “morally wrong” and said those involved in formulating false positives “tarnish the majority of the farming community, impact on programme costs, skew reported infraction levels, and negatively impact bovine TB control”.