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Sunday 4 December 2016

All-island welfare plan gets green light

Animal health agreement

Declan O'Brien

Published 06/04/2010 | 05:00

Momentum is building towards an all-island animal health and welfare strategy after the initiative took a major step forward last week when it was formally agreed at the North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC) meeting in Hillsborough.

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The NSMC meeting on agriculture and rural development agreed to the strategy, paving the way to discussing it with key industry stakeholders from across Ireland next week.

A gathering of cross-border animal health and welfare stakeholders takes place in the Slieve Russell Hotel in Co Cavan on Monday next, and the main speaker at the event will be the EU Commissioner for health and consumer policy, Mr John Dalli.

Spread

"North-South co-operation on animal health and welfare issues has the potential to help reduce and prevent the spread of animal disease as well as facilitate trade and improve the sustainability of farming," said Northern Ireland's Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew.

"The free movement of animals on the island is a key priority and the All-Island Animal Health and Welfare Strategy is certainly the right vehicle to take this forward.

"We can now look ahead to the cross-border animal health and welfare stakeholder event. We will be bringing together key stakeholders from both jurisdictions for the first time to discuss the delivery of the strategy," she added.

"This will be a milestone event for the strategy and I am very eager to hear as many viewpoints as possible on how we can implement today's plans."

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Minister Gildernew said that there have already been several positive outcomes as a result of North-South co-operation on animal health and welfare.

These ranged from exchange of data to facilitate trade in bovine animals, alignment of border control policies aimed at preventing animal disease spread, and contingency planning for disease outbreaks including Foot and Mouth, Avian Flu and Bluetongue.

Recognition

"I believe that co-operation of this nature will help international recognition of the quality of our products and will be good for marketing right across our industry," Minister Gildernew said. "I am committed to ensuring this close level of co-operation continues.

"The progress the South has made towards eradicating Aujeszky's disease is very good news. I now want our officials to work together on a joint timetable for achieving Annex 1 status, so that we can maximise the trade opportunities that recognition of disease freedom will bring.

"Progress towards the mutual recognition of genotype programmes is now at an advanced stage and is also a significant piece of work that our officials are taking forward."

Irish Independent