The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs Brid Rodgers MLA today announced the steps which are being taken in GA and Northern Ireland following the discovery of Foot and Mouth Disease at an abattoir in Essex. The Minister said:

“The outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in England is a very serious development. The disease has potentially devastating consequences for the farming industry, though I am advised that it is not regarded as a human health issue. Because of the fact that Northern Ireland pigs have been slaughtered in the plant in question within the past few days, this is not just an English or GB problem. We in Northern Ireland need to take every step possible to ensure that we protect our industry from the effects of this most damaging disease.

“For that reason, I have today agreed to an EU proposal to impose temporary controls on intra-community and third-country trade in live animals, meat, milk and other products from GB and Northern Ireland. That includes exports to the RoI and further afield, and I hope that, assuming the disease does not appear in NI, the controls will be reviewed in early March.

“This is normal precautionary practice for disease control purposes in outbreaks of Foot and Mouth Disease and we would expect other Member States to take the same steps to protect our industry if similar circumstances arose elsewhere.

“In order to ensure that we in Northern Ireland do not import the disease from GB, MAFF have agreed at my request to stop the export of pigs, sheep and goats, cattle and semen to Northern Ireland with immediate effect.

“Until the origins of the outbreak have been established I have decided to place a temporary ban on the importation of products from these GB animals. This is a precautionary measure to protect our industry and I hope it will be shortlived. Finally my staff will be ensuring the careful cleansing and disinfection of all livestock vehicles entering NI from GB.

“In the meatime, I would urge farmers and all those handling animals in marts and abattoirs to be vigilant for signs of the disease and to report anything suspicious to their veterinarian.”