Pet Vaccinations

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:45 pm on 13th April 2021.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 12:45 pm, 13th April 2021

Again, we have a significant problem with the importation of cattle and sheep. As a consequence, a large number of blackface sheep — blackface sheep in particular but not exclusively — are in Scotland. They were bought in September, and the farmers cannot get them home. The EU has been rigid about that thus far in spite of our requests. We need to get some flexibility. There are farmers in the Antrim hills, the Sperrins, the Mournes and so forth who have invested heavily and are not getting their animals brought home.

As well as that, the pedigree industry has been badly affected. Previously, farmers were taking bulls and heifers to Scotland and, indeed, to the north of England for some of the large sales. Because of the six-month standstill, they are not prepared to take that risk because, if they do not sell the animals, how can they ensure their welfare in how they are treated on a farm in Scotland or England? They are high-value animals. It will be devastating for the pedigree industry in Northern Ireland if the issue is not resolved. It is a ludicrous issue in terms of securing the single market. It has no impact whatever on the single market, and the European Union needs to back down on it, wise up and treat Northern Ireland with a degree of respect.