The Ulster Farmers’ Union has described as ‘positive progress’ an announcement from the Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill that Brucellosis controls are to be relaxed ahead of schedule.
This is part of the drive for Northern Ireland to secure Officially Brucellosis Free (OBF) status. The relaxation of controls reflects efforts by farmers and DARD officials to tackle a disease that in the past was a major economic burden to livestock production.
“There have been no confirmed cases of Brucellosis in Northern Ireland since February 2012. We commend all the positive work carried out by farmers so far and hope to obtain OBF status in the near future,” said UFU president Ian Marshall.
The UFU is pleased that the Minister is to extend testing intervals so that beef herds are tested every two years rather than annually as they currently are. This decision was made in advance of attaining OBF status. Currently, animals over 12 months of age in most dairy herds are tested every two years but supplemented by monthly milk testing.
Mr Marshall said, the relaxation of beef herd testing in advance of securing OBF status will bring savings to farmers and taxpayers. The UFU is now encouraging Michelle O’Neill to continue working with the European Commission to ensure Northern Ireland is awarded OBF status as soon as possible.