UFU secures ban on PI cattle

Picture: Cliff Donaldson
Picture: Cliff Donaldson

PI cattle will be banned from slaughter plants in Northern Ireland from 1st May this year, the UFU has said.

Deputy president Victor Chestnutt said the UFU had reached the agreement with the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association (NIMEA).

Organisations that have agreed to the UFU’s proposals to ban PI cattle from slaughter plants include NIAPA, Farmers’ For Action NI, the National Beef Association (NBA), Animal Health and Welfare NI and The Association of Veterinary Surgeons Practising in Northern Ireland (AVSPNI) as well as NIMEA.

The UFU says the ban at NIMEA abattoirs is a significant step towards eradicating BVD in Northern Ireland.

Mr Chestnutt added:“The decision to implement a ban on PI cattle entering slaughter plants has not been taken lightly. Over the past number of months, we have listened to our members’ concerns and it is very clear that responsible herd keepers have lost patience with farmers who are currently retaining PI cattle.”

The UFU says that retaining PI cattle presents a significant disease risk to the natal herd for neighbouring farms and it is delaying the progress of the BVD Eradication Programme.

“This is simply unacceptable,” Mr Chestnutt added.

The UFU says it had carefully considered the options.

“To really clamp down on this disease we need action, now. Without a sitting government, we’ve had to look at the things industry can do itself,” says Mr Chestnutt, adding that the PI ban has been discussed at length with NIMEA and other industry organisations, who are supportive.

“For anyone retaining PI cattle, the message is clear. Either humanely dispose of PI cattle through the fallen stock scheme or if they are at least 12 months of age, slaughter them at the abattoir before 1st May 2018. We do not want to see these cattle going back to grass and risk spreading the disease to neighbouring farms.”

Already controls are ratcheting up to enhance the BVD eradication programme. Farm to farm movement restrictions are now in place for all animals without a negative BVD status born after 1st March 2016. This additional industry-led measure reinforces these efforts to eradicate the disease and improve the health status of the national herd.

“Ultimately, what we need is a government back in place and for a new Minister to set out legislation that can implement whole herd movement restrictions in and out of farms retaining PI’s.

“This will be an essential measure and the final piece in the jigsaw for the Northern Ireland BVD Eradication Programme,” added Mr Chestnutt.