Guidance on the BSE testing of animals over 48 months scheme

This page provides guidance and information on testing animals for BSE in relation to the eligibility and objectives of the over 48 months scheme.

Background information

BSE is an animal disease included in the list of animal diseases established by the World Organisation for Animal Health

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs is required to test all “at risk” cattle (i.e. cattle which fail an ante-mortem inspection or are put down on farm prior to transportation to the meat plant) over 48 months old for BSE in accordance with its compulsory public prevention and eradication programme.

This page explains how the Department provides a subsidised service for the costs of health checks, tests and other screening measures and how farmers will receive compensation for losses incurred as a result of this control programme, in accordance with the BSE testing of cattle over 48 Months of age slaughtered for human consumption (Northern Ireland) 2015 Scheme ("the Scheme"), as well as the conditions of the Scheme and how compensation is claimed and calculated.

State Aid

Both the subsidised service and the compensation paid to farmers under this Scheme constitute State aid within the meaning of the Articles 107 – 109 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (consolidated version). All aid paid under this Scheme is in full compliance with Commission Regulation (EU) 702/2014, in particular Articles 1 and Article 26 of that Regulation .


The Scheme is open to all small and medium-sized agricultural holdings (farms) within Northern Ireland active in the primary production of agricultural products (Article 1 of Commission Regulation (EC) 704/2014) that are subject to the Department's compulsory public prevention and eradication programme and, in relation to compensation payments, incur losses caused by an outbreak of BSE formally recognised by the Department (Article 26.2 of Commission Regulation (EU) 702/2014).

Objectives of the Aid

The objectives of this Scheme are to prevent and eradicate BSE in Northern Ireland and to compensate farmers for losses in respect of animals slaughtered under the Department's BSE prevention and eradication control programme.


The occupier of a slaughterhouse must take a sample comprising the brain stem for testing, ensure that the animal from which the sample has been taken can be identified and arrange for the sample to be delivered to an approved testing laboratory.

The occupier of a place must arrange for the identified head of the animal to be delivered, under licence, to an approved testing laboratory for sampling and testing and ensure that the bovine animal from which the head is taken can be identified.

Subsidised Service

The Department will carry out and subsidise 100% of BSE test costs i.e. all costs, including those for test kits and for the testing, storing and destruction of samples necessary for sampling and laboratory testing in accordance with Chapter C of Annex X to Regulation (EC) No 999/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Article 26.7 & 8 of Commission Regulation (EU) 702/2014).

Compensation Payments - Eligible Loses

Aid will be limited to losses caused by an outbreak of BSE formally recognised by the Department in accordance with Article 26.2(a) of Commission Regulation (EU) 702/1014 (i.e. animals slaughtered as part of the Department’s BSE prevention and eradication control programme).

Calculation of Compensation

Compensation will be calculated in relation to the market value of the animals slaughtered immediately before any suspicion of BSE arose or was confirmed (Article 26.9) of Commission Regulation (EU) 702/1014 and will be limited to the following maximum aid intensities:

Reductions to Losses Eligible for Aid

That amount shall be reduced by any costs not directly incurred due to BSE which would otherwise have been incurred by the herd keeper.

No individual aid shall be granted where it is established that BSE was caused deliberately or by the negligence of the herd keeper.

The aid and any other payments received by the beneficiary, including payments under other national or EU measures or insurance policies for the same eligible costs as shall be limited to 100 % of the eligible costs.


A person can appeal against a decision by writing to the Department within 21 days of the notification date of any given decision. The Department must write to the appellant notifying them of their final determination and reasons for it.

The Department may make written submissions to the appointed person concerning its decision. The appointed person must then report in writing to the Department which must make a final determination in relation to the decision to which the report relates.

For more information in relation to this scheme, please contact us

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