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Suspected ‘mad cow’ case to set industry back years

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Cattle (stock photo)

Cattle (stock photo)

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Our beef and dairy industry and exports in numbers

Our beef and dairy industry and exports in numbers

Simon Coveney

Simon Coveney

Damien Eagers

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Cattle (stock photo)

The country faces losing its sought-after status as BSE-free after a case of suspected mad cow disease on a dairy farm.

The country faces losing its sought-after status as BSE-free after a case of suspected mad cow disease on a dairy farm.

The five-year-old animal was part of a 120-cow herd belonging to a family who have lived on the Co Louth farm all their lives.

The same farm was at the centre of a BSE case in 2002.

While tests are ongoing, the Department of Agriculture’s chief veterinary officer admitted he was 80pc certain that the results would confirm that the cow was Ireland’s first case of BSE in more than two years.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney swiftly moved to stress the rare breed dairy cow in Co Louth appeared to be an “isolated” case. But officials had made contact with Ireland’s key beef markets to inform them.

A confirmed case will now set the country’s BSE-free progress back by six years.

It comes just days after a key world animal health organisation declared that Ireland was effectively free of the disease which originally sparked a huge food scare in the 1990s.

This is only months after Irish beef returned to US menus for the first time since a ban over BSE fears 16 years ago.

Bord Bia said Ireland will retain “controlled risk status” even if the case is confirmed.

Irish Independent