Brucellosis-free Status: Progress

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture and Rural Development – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 3rd November 2014.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 2:30 pm, 3rd November 2014

T7. Mr Poots asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development what progress is being made in achieving brucellosis-free status in Northern Ireland, particularly in relation to bovine brucellosis. (AQT 1667/11-15)

Photo of Michelle O'Neill Michelle O'Neill Sinn Féin

We have made great progress, and I am pleased that we are continuing on that trajectory. The last confirmed case of brucellosis was on 28 February 2012, and, as a result, we recently consulted on proposals to relax our pre-movement testing controls proportionally. That would mean a pre-movement testing saving to the industry of £7 million, which we have been working very hard to achieve. We are on target to receive brucellosis-free status in 2015.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

On the basis of receiving brucellosis-free status, is it the intention to relax further some of the standards that have been set as part of the quite tight regulations over the last number of years?

Photo of Michelle O'Neill Michelle O'Neill Sinn Féin

Under the revised arrangements, the age of the animals that are to be pre-movement tested will increase from 12 to 24 months, and the validity of tests will be extended from 30 days to 60 days for a single movement. Those changes came into effect today, 3 November. Providing there is no reversal in the trend, and we continue in the same direction, we are, as I said, on target to have brucellosis-free status for the North in March 2015. That will obviously create a brucellosis-free status across the island.