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Cross-Border farmers urge brucellosis-free Ireland - Ó Caoláin

6 October, 2010 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

A delegation of farmers’ representatives from both sides of the border met today (Wednesday) with the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development in the Northern Assembly, Michelle Gildernew, at Dundonald House in Belfast. The delegation included the County Chair of IFA in both Counties Monaghan and Louth, Bert Stewart and Denis Brennan, and the Co. Louth IFA Dairy Chair Gerard Melia. Representatives of the Ulster Farmers Union from Co. Armagh were also on the delegation.

Organised by the Cavan/Monaghan TD and Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, the focus of the meeting was on the critical importance of containing and eradicating the recorded brucellosis outbreaks on a number of farms north of the border.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“There is great concern among farmers on both sides of the border at the serious problem of brucellosis in cattle in Co. Armagh. At present there is brucellosis free status south of the border and this is a huge advantage to farming there.

“It has been estimated that before its eradication in the South, brucellosis control cost farmers €17 million annually in monitoring and pre-movement charges. Most of this is now saved because of the South’s brucellosis-free status. However, the persistence of the disease in the North means that some testing is still required and the full savings cannot be made.

“The spread of brucellosis to the South would have potentially devastating consequences including the ending of live exports to Europe and the closure of many export markets for dairy products to Asia. This would be on top of much greater costs for farmers in testing cattle and working to eradicate the disease once more.

“Today’s meeting was very constructive and was driven by a determination on both sides of the border to stamp out this disease and give the whole island of Ireland brucellosis-free status. Minister Gildernew and her officials share this determination and the delegation recorded their appreciation of the steps she and her Department are taking and plan to take in the period ahead. This is being done with the shared aim of preventing the spread of the disease and to eradicate it once and for all.” ENDS

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