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Gildernew to consult stakeholders on Animal Health and Welfare decision-making

5 June, 2008

Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has confirmed that she is proposing to consult stakeholders on animal health and welfare policy decision-making.

This consultation will focus on how the farming industry could have direct input into the decision making process for animal health and welfare and its delivery. It will also examine the long term strategy for cost sharing and will seek views on specific cost sharing proposals. This follows similar consultations which have already been completed in Scotland and England, and one which will soon be completed in Wales.

Discussing her proposals, the minister said:

"The benefits to be gained through responsibility sharing for both industry and government are too great to ignore. It is only right that those affected by animal health and welfare policies and decisions should have a clear say in developing the policy and in the decision making process.

"With the outbreaks of Foot and Mouth, Avian Flu and Bluetongue in Britain over the past nine months, my officials and I have worked closely with key stakeholders to prevent these diseases entering the North. If I had needed any reassurances that the industry is up to the challenges of responsibility sharing for animal health and welfare matters, these past months have given me that assurance. The expertise and practical experience that people on the ground can bring to the table will be invaluable in making better informed decisions on a wide range of animal health and welfare issues.

"A working group of key stakeholders and DARD officials have been exploring how responsibility and cost sharing can best be taken forward in the North. I am keen to have new responsibility sharing structures in place sooner rather than later, to enable the industry to have a real say in how the long term cost sharing strategy is developed.

"My officials will be meeting with the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee in the coming week to discuss the issues and I look forward to their input."

Note to Editors

  1. The North of Ireland's Animal Health and Welfare Strategy aimed to develop a partnership between industry and government to make a lasting and continuous improvement in the health and welfare of kept animals while protecting society, the economy and the environment from the effects of animal disease. Animal health and welfare policy development and delivery continues to be taken forward with reference to this strategic framework.
  2. The potential benefits of enhanced animal health and welfare are great; for animals, their owners, society, public health and the wider rural economy.
  3. This consultation will seek views on how responsibility and cost sharing could be introduced in Northern Ireland and follows on from a consultation on the principles for responsibility and costing which was issued by the department in December 2006.
  4. The European Commission is reviewing the current Community Animal Health Policy (CAHP). The development of a ''responsibility and cost sharing scheme'' was recommended as an instrument to support the future CAHP.
  5. Whilst it is sensible that the broad principles of responsibility and cost sharing should apply on a member state basis, any new arrangement should be flexible enough to accommodate key regional differences. It is therefore essential that, when developing policies in the North of Ireland that we consider the approach taken in the Republic of Ireland.

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