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Gildernew discusses Bluetongue at UFU meeting

16 January, 2008


Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has met with a delegation from the Ulster Farmer's Union (UFU).

During the meeting the Minister and the UFU delegation discussed a wide range of issues including bluetongue, Single Farm Payment, live cattle trade, beef imports, labelling, and local procurement.

Referring to the threat posed by bluetongue, particularly from the importation of infected animals, the Minister said that:

"The Veterinary Risk Assessment that we have done tells us that the greatest threat to the local industry is currently from the importation of infected animals. I strongly advise farmers not to import animals from bluetongue infected areas unless they really need to, and if they do decide to import to get a pre-import test first.

"Every potential importer must ask themselves whether they are prepared to risk introducing bluetongue to the island. They must understand that the introduction of bluetongue will subject the whole of the local industry to the long-term economic costs of having the disease.

"Industry leaders have a responsibility to advise farmers of the risks they pose to the whole industry by importing animals from bluetongue areas of Britain or the continent, and should provide strong advice on how they can reduce this risk to the minimum.

"It must be stressed again that compensation will not be paid for any imported animals that turn out to be infected."

The Minister had a constructive meeting with the UFU who to continue to work closely with the Department over the coming months on the bluetongue issue.

NOTES TO EDITORS:


The UFU delegation comprised Kenneth Sharkey (President), Clarke Black (Chief Executive) and Wesley Aston (Director of Commodities and Food).

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