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Gildernew encourages Brucellosis Initiative meetings

6 March, 2008


Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has praised the success of a joint department and local farmer forum held in Mullaghbawn, County Armagh.

The meeting was organised jointly between the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and local farmers to engage with local herd owners in the fight against brucellosis.

Discussing the Armagh event, the Minister said:

"This meeting was held to promote an understanding of brucellosis and advise farmers what more they can do to protect their herds from the disease. It is the first of several events that we are setting up around the north in coming weeks. Brucellosis is a disease that is costly to both farmers and the taxpayer and it was particularly valuable for my Department to have the opportunity to discuss the disease with the local farming community.

"Last night's meeting was well attended and produced a positive exchange of views. I am very encouraged by the level of participation from farmers present and I will look carefully at the valuable suggestions and new approaches that emerged from them. No testing system is perfect and I am open to consideration of any realistic improvements that can be made to help cut local incidence of this disease.

"The decision reached at the meeting to establish a brucellosis farmers' group to promote enhanced communication between my officials and herd keepers is to be welcomed. Genuine partnership with local farmers is essential, if we are to make further progress in eradicating this disease and I look forward to seeing the benefit of this approach in the coming months."

Further information on Brucellosis is available on the DARD website at: http://www.dardni.gov.uk/index/animal-health/animal-diseases/br.htm

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Over 1,400 farmers from the south Armagh area were invited to the meeting and a Senior Veterinary Officer, Mr Gary O'Hagan (SSVI - Senior Superintendent Veterinary Inspector) from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (DAFF) in Dublin was also in attendance.

A series of further farmers meetings are being arranged for higher disease incidence areas as part of the planned brucellosis initiative.

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