Allister slams rules around livestock imports

TUV leader Jim Allister has said that the regulations around the import of livestock into Northern Ireland from Great Britain are as severe as imports from Brazil or Bolivia.
Jim AllisterJim Allister
Jim Allister

He made the comment after raising concerns around the issue with DAERA Minister Edwin Poots, who stood down from his role earlier this week for cancer treatment.

Mr Allister had asked Minister Poots what change in rules will apply, from 1 January 2021, to the return of cattle from Great Britain which are taken there for the purpose of shows or sales.

In response Mr Poots said: “From 1 January 2021 livestock can only be moved from Great Britain (GB) to Northern Ireland (NI) if they satisfy the same requirements for third country imports into the EU, this includes cattle returning from GB which have been taken there for shows or sales.

“All livestock moving from GB to NI, need:-To be accompanied by the correct signed export health certificate (EHC) issued under the authority of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA);To be pre-notified via the TRACES NT system at least 24 hours before the movement into NI;To meet required residency conditions; including residency in GB from birth or for six months prior to move; resident on their current holding for at least 40 days before the move with no contact with other imported cloven-hooved animals;To be identified with a tag printed with the country code “GB” in addition to their official identity code. For animals originating in NI this will require applying a third “export tag” printed with the animal’s existing ID and the letters “GB”.

“Additionally such livestock; Must not be moved on to another holding for at least 30 days after arrival (apart for a move to direct slaughter); Must enter through a designated NI point of entry; and If moving from England and Wales specifically must have had a negative bTB test in the 30 days preceding the movement.

“I am acutely aware of the issues regarding the movement of livestock from GB to NI and in particular the implications for breeders of pedigree livestock, who buy, sell or show animals at venues in GB. I fully appreciate the difficulties regarding the requirements of the EHC for the movement of livestock. I have written to the European Commission to highlight the issues with what I regard as the unnecessary animal health and residence requirements within the EHCs for GB to NI livestock movements. I will also continue to engage on these issues with my Ministerial Colleagues across the UK and have requested my officials similarly continue to engage with their GB counterparts to explore potential mitigations where possible.”

Mr Allister said the answer by Minister Poots sets out just how ‘absurd and destructive of trade the iniquitous Protocol is for livestock owners’.

He added: “These measures, which equate in severity to imports from Brazil or Bolivia, show just how far Northern Ireland is now ostracised from its own nation and market.

“This is intolerable and no Unionist minister should be presiding over such a catastrophic regime of inspections.

“The Protocol is not just anti-trade it is anti the people and farmers of Northern Ireland. It must be unstitched, but that will never happen if unionist ministers implement it.”