Action needs to be taken to assist farmers affected by botulism in livestock: MP

Margaret Ritchie
Margaret Ritchie

Member of Parliament for South Down, Margaret Ritchie, has urged agricultural ministers to take appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of botulism incidents in cattle and assist farmers whose cattle are affected by this disease.

Ms Ritchie said: “I met a delegation of farmers this week who raised with me their concerns regarding lack of support from the Department of Agriculture, in incidents where cattle and livestock have been lost to botulism.

“The Animal By Products Regulation NI permits spreading on land of poultry litter, while the spreading of litter contaminated by carcases in an offence.

“Similarly, broiler litter should not be spread on agricultural land that is to be grazed as fragments containing botulinum may persist on the pasture for some time. If litter is to be spread, it should be deep ploughed.

“The farming community have found when their livestock have been contaminated or lost to botulism, no assistance or support has been available from the Department for Agriculture.

Ms Ritchie added: “I have made urgent representations to the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, the Minister for Environment Food and Rural Affairs in Westminster and European Commissioner Phil Hogan regarding the need for more awareness of this disease and for a support mechanism to be put in place to assist farmers who have lost livestock to this disease.”