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Message to Farming Community from Michelle Gildernew

7 August, 2007


Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has sent a message of reassurance and support to the farming community on the fifth day of the Foot and Mouth Outbreak in England.

The Minister also indicated that she is aware of problems some companies here are experiencing in relation to third country exports (non EU countries).

"I spoke today with Mr McReynolds from Grampian to reassure him we are doing all we can to resolve this situation. The matter is being raised with the Japanese authorities and the USA administration advising them that we are free from Foot and Mouth Disease and that it is business as usual.

"I will continue to press this point and do all in my power to ensure that everyone understands our special status. We want the EU to also ensure that they reflect this to their members. Department of Agricultural and Rural Development (DARD) Chief Vet Bert Houston is attending a meeting in Brussels tomorrow to ensure that our exemption is confirmed.

"We are absolutely united, with the industry and farming union, in our actions to protect the farming and rural community here from the threat of foot and mouth disease.

"We must remain alert to this threat. Farmers, in particular, must remain vigilant. We cannot be complacent. Good bio-security on our farms and at our ports is an absolute must.

"Actions taken so far have been effective but measured. I moved quickly and decisively to keep the Foot and Mouth Disease away from these shores through immediately closing the ports. Producers and processors can continue to export animals, meat and dairy products to the South, Europe and beyond. There are no restrictions on access to the countryside, the operation of livestock marts, slaughterhouses or agricultural shows.

"DARD officials are working closely with their counterparts in Dublin to finalise the documentary requirements for the export of animals and animal products. Guidance on certification will be placed on the DARD internet.

In conclusion the Minister said:

"This is a dynamic situation and we are working hard with industry to ensure that we set in place processes which work for farmers here and conform with the EU Decision. We are striving to keep regulation to a minimum and to keep trade going." ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

DARD officials met with members of the Milk Purchasers and Processing sectors today and had a very productive meeting. The discussions focused on current trading issues in respect of milk and milk products moving to EU and Third Countries.

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