Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson met with farmers in South Down on Monday at the request of party colleague, Chris Hazzard to listen to their concerns about the growing number of cases of suspected Botulism.
Ms Anderson said: “Following my discussions with the farmers today I instructed my Office in Europe to submit a question for urgent response to the Agriculture Commissioner.
“It is clear that the farming community require official guidelines on measures to prevent the spread of botulism and any existing enforcement measures need to be reviewed as a matter of urgency.
“Many farmers have lost as many as 10 cattle with consistent post mortem examinations giving the cause of death as ‘suspected botulism’.
“The financial losses incurred by farmers is particularly difficult at this time when farm incomes are already under pressure. The post mortem result of ‘suspected botulism’, is increasing the pressure with insurance companies increasingly reluctant to compensate farmers for their losses. It is imperative that farming best practices guidelines on this disease be issued to farmers without delay.
“I have submitted the following question to the Commission: ‘Given the number of cases of botulism occurring in cattle and poultry can the Commission agree that it is necessary for a public awareness campaign at a European level to ensure that the appropriate preventative measures and action in confirmed cases is being taken’.
“This of course is an Ireland wide problem and both Departments of Agriculture must combine efforts to prevent the spread of the disease, with the same concerted cooperation as happened during the brucellosis and BSE crises.
“I have spoken to my colleague Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill to see what she can do in the short term to address the concerns of the farmers.”