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Keep your guard against Bluetongue risk from imports, says Gildernew

14 August, 2008

Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has urged farmers here to remain vigilant and not risk importing potentially infected stock.

Discussing the continuing Bluetongue risk, the Minister said:

"I welcome the Ulster Farmer's Union comments last week urging farmers not to import livestock. It is vitally important that we continue to keep Bluetongue out. The main risk to the north continues to be the import of infected animals, particularly in light of the continuing spread of disease on the continent. Our farmers need to think very carefully before they bring animals here that may have been exposed to infection and especially those from areas zoned in respect of bluetongue in Britain or on the continent.

"Although increasing numbers of farmers in Britain are now vaccinating against Bluetongue, our farmers must remain on their guard. The next few months are the highest risk period and farmers need to be aware of that and should not be complacent. If they import infected stock the risk is not only to themselves but to the whole industry."

The Department already has processes in place to reduce the risk. However, importers should be aware that any imported animals found to be infected with Bluetongue will be slaughtered and no compensation will be payable.

Farmers taking cattle and sheep to shows in Britain, or purchasing animals there, must ensure the show is located in a Bluetongue Free Zone.

All animals being imported from Britain require a Specific Import Licence (applications may be obtained from the DARD website or by contacting Trade Branch, tel: 028 9052 0931).

The Licence should also be accompanied by a Defra issued Export Health Certificate, a declaration completed by the original Owner, a Veterinary Supplementary certificate completed by the local Veterinary Inspector at the show and, where animals are being re-imported into the North of Ireland, a copy of the original export health certificate that travelled with the animals to Britain in the first place

Imported cattle and sheep, except those from the South of Ireland, must be housed, isolated and be subjected to post import Bluetongue testing. The animals must remain housed and isolated until all tests are completed and a de-restriction notice is issued.

DARD continues to liaise closely with Defra, other Devolved Administrations and with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Dublin to monitor the Bluetongue situation. DARD also reviews and updates its Veterinary Risk Assessment on an ongoing basis in light of new developments, to ensure the measures in place are appropriate and timely.

DARD is continuing to work in partnership with key stakeholders to mitigate the threat of Bluetongue incursion.

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