Animal health crisis is imminent due to Protocol – Lockhart

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DUP EFRA Spokesperson Carla Lockhart has said that with only two weeks to go until the end of grace periods relating to veterinary medicines coming to Northern Ireland from Great Britain, the local agriculture sector must have assurances from the Government that grace periods will be extended to avoid an animal health and animal welfare crisis.

Speaking in London, Carla Lockhart said: “We have been raising this issue with the Government for some time, highlighting the absolutely unacceptable animal health and animal welfare crisis that will ensue from 1st January should the EU demands under the Protocol be implemented in relation to veterinary medicines.

“Without Government action, over 50% of animal medicines within the Northern Ireland veterinary armoury will be withdrawn from supply.

"This is as a result of the Protocol. Some might want us to believe the Protocol is a positive for Northern Ireland. It is potentially devastating for our world leading animal health and animal welfare standards,” the MP added.

Upper Bann MP Carla LockhartUpper Bann MP Carla Lockhart
Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart

“It is now two weeks to the turn of the year. It is time that vets and farmers got that assurance that this will not be allowed to happen.

"It is increasingly clear that the EU has not had any intention to resolve this matter with any great pace. It is therefore vital that the Government acts.

“I have written to the DEFRA Secretary to implore him to take immediate action. It must happen now.

"Furthermore, it is vital that within any extension of the status quo that the Government delivers a new agreement with the EU that respects our place within the UK internal market. Supply must continue to be able to be sourced from GB. The answer is not found in establishing new supply chains from foreign countries.”

Last month animal health trade body NOAH warned the health and welfare of NI farm livestock and pets is in danger unless changes are made to the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP).

The group said that If the NIP does not change, up to 50% of the current veterinary medicines will disappear from the NI market. This will not only compromise animal health and welfare, but also threaten food security and public health.