Ministers announce end to brucellosis pre-movement testing across Ireland

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Michelle O’Neill, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, and her counterpart in the south, Simon Coveney, have today announced that brucellosis pre-movement testing would end on 28 September 2015.

Both Ministers said that, following the effective eradication of the disease, it was now appropriate to end internal pre-movement testing for brucellosis in both the north and south.

“Following the tremendous news we received in early September that the European Commission had approved our case for Officially Brucellosis Free (OBF) status for the north, I am now able to take steps to further roll back our testing regime.”

DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill

Speaking at a joint reception at the National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co Laois, Minister O’Neill added: “Following the tremendous news we received in early September that the European Commission had approved our case for Officially Brucellosis Free (OBF) status for the north, I am now able to take steps to further roll back our testing regime. Ending brucellosis pre-movement testing here, as in the south, will be very welcome news for farmers and will result in significant savings for them. I am delighted that we have now reached the stage where we can end this testing requirement.

“Once formal publication of the Commission’s decision is made in the Official Journal of the EU, I will be able to announce additional steps I can take to further dismantle the brucellosis testing programme in the north, in line with European legislation. Indeed this work is already underway, and in recent months I increased the testing interval for beef herds to two years.

“Today’s announcement is a just reward for the great efforts that have been made by my department and the whole industry to eradicate this costly and devastating disease. At the peak of our testing programme, pre-movement testing was estimated to cost the farmers in the north at least £2 million per year, so this will generate a substantial saving for our farming industry.”

Minister O’Neill reminded farmers that, while brucellosis pre-movement testing had ended for internal movements, cattle moving from the north to south, to Britain or to other Member States, would continue meantime to require a brucellosis pre-export test until after the Commission’s OBF decision has been formally published in the European Official Journal of the EU.

Minister O’Neill continued: “I recognise Minister Coveney’s efforts: in having completed their five year period of statutory testing following their achievement of OBF status, the south have been able to end most of their routine surveillance testing. Now that the north has also achieved OBF status, it is pleasing that we can both move in tandem to remove pre-movement testing. I look forward to continuing cooperation between our two regions as we continue to fight brucellosis and other animal health issues.”

Minister Coveney, also speaking from the joint reception, added: “I am delighted to say that the north, having been free from brucellosis for over three years, has been granted Officially Brucellosis Free status and is also moving to scale down brucellosis testing, including the discontinuation of pre-movement testing. This is significant in the context of North/South cooperation on animal health issues and was a major factor in my decision to discontinue pre-movement testing in the south.”