Gildernew achieves Assembly agreement to Diseases of Animals Bill
Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has been given the final approval of the Assembly to important new legislation on disease control measures.
The Diseases of Animals Bill will enable stricter enforcement checks at ports, compulsory biosecurity measures at all livestock premises and measures to swiftly contain and eradicate disease outbreaks, and will be a powerful tool in the eradication of Brucellosis in the north of Ireland. The Bill will also enable the introduction of policies that reflect the latest developments in research and technology to trace and combat disease.
Speaking after today’s debate in the Assembly the Minister said: “I am very proud to see this Bill become reality and it provides a great example of devolution delivering for the local farming industry. Particularly the fact that the Bill deals with the extremely important issue of prevention and control of animal and poultry diseases. We will not easily forget the consequences of the Foot and Mouth outbreaks in 2001 and the more recent threats to our industry from Avian Influenza and Bluetongue.
“We have to remain vigilant because the consequences of a full scale disease outbreak here could be disastrous for our agri food industry and our economy. If vital export markets are lost they will be very difficult to regain in today’s highly competitive trading conditions and economic climate”.
The Minister continued: "Farmers and everyone else involved in this industry need to do everything they possibly can to keep disease out. If the unthinkable happens and we have a serious outbreak then robust powers will be needed to stamp it out quickly. This is where the Diseases of Animals Bill comes in.
“The new legislation will enable swift and decisive action to deal with a disease outbreak. It will place a greater emphasis on preventative measures such as compulsory Biosecurity measures on farms and increased checks at ports. The Bill also enables tough action against those who deliberately engage in acts which are intended to cause the spread of disease.”
The Minister concluded: “The Diseases of Animals Bill is an excellent example of a Minister, Department and Assembly Committee working together to achieve consensus on a balanced, robust and significant piece of legislation. I want to thank the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee for their informed and constructive input.
“I look forward to continuing this work with the Committee on the Forestry Bill and the two further Bills, which I hope to introduce to the Assembly next year on Welfare of Animals and Dog Control.”
Finally, the Minister added her thanks to the President of the Ulster Farmers’ Union and his officials for their constructive comments and advice during the various stages of the Bill. The Minister emphasised the important role played by the Union and other stakeholders in contributing to the development of new legislation on issues which directly affect the farming community.
The legislation is expected to become law early next year.