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North/South Ministerial Council: Agriculture

Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:30 pm on 22nd November 2016.

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Photo of Michelle McIlveen Michelle McIlveen DUP 12:30 pm, 22nd November 2016

I thank the Member for his question. A mandatory eradication programme was brought in on 1 March 2016 similar to that which was introduced by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in 2013. Its aim is to control, and ultimately eradicate, BVD in Northern Ireland. It is an industry-led scheme operated by Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland (AHWNI) in support of the industry's action to eradicate BVD. The Department provided funding of £219,000 to assist with start-up costs, and my officials have worked very closely with AHWNI to facilitate the introduction and implementation of the tag-and-test legislation. We continue to liaise with AHWNI and the industry to bring forward phase 2 of the legislation when the monitoring requirements and necessary IT systems have been developed.

The most up-to-date figures that I have are that somewhere in the region of 335,000 calves had been tagged and tested by the end of September and that there was a positive test rate of 0·73%. AHWNI has surpassed its target for tests being returned within seven days, which has been helpful to the industry. We are looking to the future, and it is likely that phase 2 of the legislation will cover herd monitoring and more rigorous movement and enforcement controls.

BVD eradication programmes are in operation not only in the Republic of Ireland but in Scotland, our two main trading partners. The test is intended to help to increase our competitiveness here and to improve our efficiency at farm level. We are hopeful of positive results.