Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots, has said “preparations for approval and operation of cattle export assembly sales to European Union standards are at an advanced stage across Great Britain.”
Mr Poots confirmed similar work is ongoing in relation to the approval and operating of sheep export assembly centres.
“When these arrangements are operational on the ground in shows, sales, etc. in Great Britain, this will remove the requirement for segregation of NI animals attending such sales and shows, which is the main operational constraint to unfettered market access for this important element of our local livestock industry.”
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Mr Poots was responding to a written assembly question tabled by TUV leader Jim Allister.
Mr Allister asked the minister to detail all the conditions applicable to the new Export Health Certificate, which will govern the return of livestock to Northern Ireland after a show or sale in Great Britain, and for his assessment of the workability of such.
Mr Poots stated: “To avail of the new Export Health Certificate governing the return of livestock to Northern Ireland after a show or sale in Great Britain, the following conditions must be met:
Show or sale must be approved and operate in conformance with the rules applying to EU export assembly centres.
“Livestock must move directly from establishment of origin in NI to approved show or sale in GB.
“Livestock must have no contact with animals of a lower health status from the time of loading for dispatch from Northern Ireland, through the duration of the event and the period of transportation back to their home destination
“In terms of ‘workability’, for most exhibitors, the principle operational constraint is likely to be the maintenance of segregation of the animals from Northern Ireland from all other animals attending the show or sale, throughout the show or sale.
“At present, this is unavoidable, unless all the other animals are of equivalent or higher health status and have satisfied the requirements for entry into the European Union; and that the show or sale (in totality) is approved and operates in conformance with the rules applying to European Union Export Assembly Centres.
“However, my officials have engaged intensively with those of the United Kingdom Government and industry representatives and I am pleased to note that preparations for the approval and operation of cattle export assembly sales to European Union standards are at an advanced stage across Great Britain, and that the publication of updated guidance is imminent.”