The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs Bríd Rodgers MLA, today announced a suspected case of Foot and Mouth Disease in Northern Ireland. Speaking after a meeting in Dundonald House with agri-food industry representatives, Mrs Rodgers said:

“My Department has become aware that a consignment of sheep was sent to Northern Ireland from GB just over a week ago, before we were aware of the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak there and before I banned such movements. That consignment was certified as intended for immediate slaughter. The sheep in question did not in fact go for slaughter. Some have now been found on a farm in Northern Ireland. Our investigations now suggest that some of the sheep involved were sourced in Carlisle at the same time as known infected animals. Staff from my Department are currently trying to trace the ultimate destination of all the sheep in question, but we do know that some went to premises at Meigh in South Armagh. As a precautionary measure, we have placed the holding under restriction and established an 8 kilometre surveillance zone round it. Our vets are on the farm at present and, as a precaution, are slaughtering the stock on the farm. Laboratory testing will be required to confirm whether or not those animals have Foot and Mouth Disease. The carcases will then be incinerated. We will now follow up any contacts.

Since the surveillance zone surrounding the farm in question straddles the Border, the authorities there have been advised and are taking the appropriate action in their jurisdiction.

This vividly illustrates the consequences of people ignoring the rules which are in place to protect the livelihoods of farmers and the well-being of our agri-food industry. I have to stress again the absolute necessity for everyone, especially farmers, to adhere to the rules on animal movements.

My Department is placing advertisements in the local press today setting out in detail the steps that farmers should take to protect themselves against Foot and Mouth Disease. I would implore them to follow that advice rigidly and to report any suspicious symptoms to their local divisional veterinary office. I will make further announcements when I have more details to report.” published a feature on foot and mouth. To read it, click here.