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UFU Call for Wider Bluetongue Import Ban

04 March 2008

UK - The Ulster Farmers’ Union says the importation of all cattle, sheep and susceptible animals, which have resided in Bluetongue-restricted zones since August 1st, 2006, should be suspended until transmission routes for the disease are clarified.
UFU President Kenneth Sharkey said new import controls were needed given the emerging science surrounding possible transmission routes for Bluetongue.

Kenneth Sharkey said; “We have put this proposal to Government because we believe a safety first attitude is needed at this time. Bluetongue is a very serious disease and we must take the necessary action to minimise the risk of an outbreak in Northern Ireland. Possible new transmission routes have emerged and with research still continuing to establish exactly how this disease spreads, we are now calling for a suspension of imports for any livestock which have been in a bluetongue restricted region since 1 August 2006 when the disease emerged in Northern Europe”.

The UFU says it has discussed the current situation in detail with the leadership of the Irish Farmers’ Association and both the UFU and IFA have agreed that a wider import ban would be the most appropriate action given the uncertainty surrounding the disease.

Kenneth Sharkey said; “We had a Bluetongue case in County Antrim and in the Republic of Ireland 24 imported animals have tested positive for antibodies. Imported livestock clearly pose a significant risk and the importation ban which we have called for is necessary to protect the industry. We have also asked DARD to consider new control risk measures for high risk cargoes from Bluetongue restricted zones”.

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