Northern Irish farmers are being urged to reject a proposal to cut the compensation which farmers receive for the removal of their cattle under the bTB programme.

The controversial proposal, unveiled by the Department of Agriculture (DAERA), seeks to slash compensation by up to 25% over a period of two years.

As things stand, farmers in the region receive 100% of the market value of their stock.

Figures show that in Northern Ireland, 1500 cattle are culled every month due to bovine TB.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is urging farmers to complete DAERA’s TB consultation, which closes for responses on March 8.

READ MORE | UFU respond to proposed new DAERA bTB legislation

"Whilst our members are paid a market value, there is no allowance for the subsequent loss in production, either in milk sales or lost progeny," the UFU said.

"Lenders in NI have recently outlined the severe impacts that a TB breakdown has on a farm’s finances.

"To suggest then that DAERA make moves to steal a proportion of the value of our members' herds is frankly barbaric."

The union said that tackling bTB effectively was a key element to further improving the environmental footprint of the NI ruminant sector.

"It is up to every farmer to ensure they play their part in giving a strong response to these barbaric proposals," it added.

"In doing so, we can give the DAERA Minister the firm assurance that any move to devalue our animals will not be tolerated."

Farmers can respond to DAERA's consultation online, which closes on March 8.