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Minister Warns of Potential Bluetongue Danger

20 May 2010

NORTHERN IRELAND - Northern Irish Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has warned farmers of the risks of letting their guard down in relation to the threat of Bluetongue.

The Minister said: “In the week that we have been showcasing the agri-food industry at the Balmoral Show, I could not believe that some farmers have shown a complete disregard for our industry by importing over 70 cattle from Germany and Holland to farms spread across the north. That, only weeks after Germany confirmed its first case of Bluetongue this year!”

Minister Gildernew continued, “As we are now in the higher risk period for Bluetongue it is more important than ever that we protect our Bluetongue free status. The cost to the agri-food industry of a Bluetongue outbreak could be as much as £25 million per year, and that is a cost to industry, not Government.”

The Minister warned, “To prevent the spread of disease any imported animal found to have bluetongue will be culled and no compensation will be paid - but by that time the disease may have already affected neighbouring farms. It is a very high price to pay for importing cheaper stock.

“As some farmers relax their guard and start to import animals from Bluetongue affected countries, they increase the risk of potentially infected Bluetongue animals arriving here, be that a BTV8, BTV1 or some other strain of the Bluetongue virus.”

In conclusion, the Minister said: “I have consistently and continually urged potential importers to act responsibly and consider the devastating impact a Bluetongue outbreak would have upon local herds. It is time for those importers, who continue to act irresponsibly in relation to heightening the bluetongue risk to think beyond their own selfish interests. If they continue to import, regrettably warnings may not be enough and we will be facing a much worse scenario.”

DARD continues to review and update its Veterinary Risk Assessment on an ongoing basis to ensure that any measures in place for imported animals continue to be proportionate. DARD liaises closely with key stakeholders in addressing the risk of a Bluetongue incursion. We also continue to have regular contact with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Dublin to ensure that measures, throughout the island, are appropriate and are sufficient to protect the bluetongue free status of the whole island.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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