Badgers could be part of proposed new research which would involve testing live badgers; vaccinating and releasing the test negative badgers; and removing the test positive ones.
The minister said: "I wish to commence preliminary badger sett survey work as soon as possible. I have agreed that AFBI should start the sett survey in a 100km² area between Banbridge and Rathfriland as soon as permissions from local farmers are obtained.
"I am encouraged that the balanced TVR approach has been welcomed by a broad spectrum of stakeholders."
Scotland currently has TB free status and Ms O'Neill is aiming for Northen Ireland to achieve the same.
She added: "I believe that it is important that we regularly take stock of the TB position in the north and refocus our efforts to make further progress and the committee's recently published Review into Bovine TB Report provides an opportunity to do this. I share the widely held aspiration to achieve a progressive reduction in disease levels towards the ultimate eradication of TB here.
"In addressing the TB problem clearly more needs to be done, but we must take care that that any additional control measures we take are proportionate, practical and cost effective and are likely to help to reduce the disease. I expect to see further proposals for a range of possible new measures developed for discussion with key stakeholders over the coming months."