The Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Mr Joe Walsh TD, has announced a further easing of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) controls following receipt of the latest recommendations of the Expert Group, which met earlier today.  

The Minister said that, in relation to cattle, he had decided to make the following adjustments: 

  • as and from 18 June, marts may re-open; 

  • multiple pick-ups and destinations will be allowed in respect of movements to marts, export points and factories; 

  • the 30-day holding period for sales through marts and for farm-to-farm movements will be retained, but will not apply in respect of cattle going for export through approved assembly centres; 

  • the permit system for farm-to-farm movements and for movements to Northern Ireland will be retained.

The Minister confirmed that the permit regime is being discontinued in respect of movement of cattle to marts, for slaughter, within holdings and for export (except for exports to Northern Ireland from centres which do not have CMMS facilities). He also confirmed the removal of the “7 day” rule in respect of sales after buying-in, and the removal of limitations on pick-ups and multiple destinations. 

In relation to sheep and pig movements, however, the Minister stressed that the existing regimes would be retained for the time being, and would be reviewed in the light of the ongoing programme of serology testing which has been underway since 10 May.  In this regard, permits will issue only in respect of movement to slaughter and on welfare grounds.

The Minister drew attention to the continuing incidence of FMD in Britain, which constitutes an ongoing risk to this country.  He therefore stressed the need for continued vigilance, for best practice in relation to all aspects of animal husbandry, and for the maintenance of effective disinfectant measures.  He concluded by saying that the Department would shortly be giving specific further guidance to, inter alia, farmers, marts and meat plants, on bio-security arrangements and other aspects of their operations, designed to protect against animal diseases.  The Department is to hold discussions with marts to ensure that the necessary arrangements are in place in advance of the re-opening of marts on 18 June.