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O’Neill launches new guidance designed to help wipe out Brucellosis

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has launched new statutory biosecurity guidance for brucellosis.
Thursday, 4 April 2013

Explaining the reasons behind issuing the guidance, Minister O’Neill said: “In recent years excellent progress has been made in the fight against brucellosis. The last confirmed outbreak here was in February 2012, which means that, provided we have no further confirmed outbreaks, we are on track to achieve our Programme for Government target of eradicating brucellosis by 31 March 2014.”
The Minister cautioned that there is no room for complacency and said: “It is absolutely vital that all herdkeepers continue to take every step possible to ensure that a very high standard of biosecurity is observed on their farms. No further outbreak means that we could achieve ‘Official Brucellosis Free’ status by 2015, which will benefit all cattle farmers here through the subsequent progressive relaxation of annual and pre-movement testing. But even just one confirmed breakdown is enough to undo all the good work to date and set back the eradication of this costly disease.”

Minister O’Neill stressed: “It is especially important therefore that all herdkeepers follow the further useful biosecurity advice contained in the statutory guidance and make enquiries about the present and past disease status of herds from which they are purchasing.

“It is also very important when purchasing animals from outside the north of Ireland to give due consideration to all the disease risks involved.”

The Minister highlighted that failure to comply with the statutory guidance would be admissible in any civil or criminal proceedings and a court may take account of any failure to act in accordance with it in deciding any questions in all such proceedings.

Explaining further the Minister said: “The statutory biosecurity guidance, which has been sent to all cattle herdkeepers in the north, brings together in one short document the statutory requirements for herdkeepers specifically in relation to brucellosis and the recommended key actions that they should take to protect their herd from the risk of the disease. It sets out the existing legal requirements that herdkeepers must meet in respect of brucellosis, as well as the key actions that herdkeepers should take to ensure good biosecurity.

“We believe that introducing statutory biosecurity guidance specifically for brucellosis will focus herdkeepers’ minds on the steps they must take to ensure that all appropriate biosecurity measures are taken to help prevent and reduce the risk of infection in their herds. Eradication of brucellosis is one thing, keeping it eradicated will require vigilance by Government and industry alike.”

Copies of the statutory biosecurity guidance can be obtained by visiting the Department’s website.

Notes to editors:

  1. DARD has published statutory biosecurity guidance for brucellosis which has been sent to all cattle herdkeepers in the north. The legislative basis for the statutory guidance is provided by the Diseases of Animals Act (NI) 2010 and the Biosecurity Guidance (Specification of Brucellosis) Order (Northern Ireland) 2010.
  2. For media enquiries please contact DARD Press Office 028 9052 4619 or email: pressoffice.group@dardni.gov.uk Out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.