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Gildernew Reviews Bio Security Measures

9 August, 2007

Sinn Féin Agriculture Minster, Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has reviewed the local bio security measures introduced in response to the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in Britain.

The Minister said:

"When I took immediate steps to protect us against this disease outbreak, I asked that the level of risk and the adequacy of our response be reviewed regularly. I want us to maintain business as usual wherever possible, but without undermining our biosecurity.

"I have now received from the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), Bert Houston, an assessment of our current arrangements and I am reassured that no major concerns have been identified. The department will continue to monitor the situation and will work with the industry to ensure that bio security risks are mitigated.

"A positive conclusion from the CVO's assessment is that the risk of disease transmission on individual farms is currently low, and it is acceptable for routine business visits by DARD officials to restart. I have decided therefore that visits related to the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme, the Countryside Management Scheme and for advisory purposes, which I put on hold temporarily at the start of the week, should now resume. This will help to avoid a backlog of visits, which could lead to delays in grant payments being released.

"I am satisfied that the normal business of other departments can also continue, though my department will write to colleagues and remind them of the importance of maintaining good bio security and they will stand ready to provide further advice where needed."

The Minister will be updating the Executive on the latest developments, including the action taken to maintain our current animal health status and differentiate our product from Britain's to facilitate exports.

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