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Imports from bluetongue areas put NI farming at risk

Session: 2008/2009

Date: 11 February 2009

Reference: AGR 04/08/09

Over 300 animals from bluetongue restricted areas have been imported into Northern Ireland over the past weeks, the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has been told.

This shock statistic came as the Committee held its weekly meeting and was briefed by Department for Agriculture and Rural Development officials.

Expressing the Committee’s concern, Chairperson of the Committee, Dr William McCrea said, “The Committee and the Department debated new legislation at the Committee meeting on enhancing controls to prevent the spread of such diseases. Naturally, it is disappointing to learn that there are those who will continue to put our industry at risk from disease through importing animals from bluetongue restricted areas.

“In the absence of a compulsory ban on imports from restricted areas, the Committee can only emphasise warnings issued by the Department and the farm unions on the importation of animals.

“We must remain vigilant to ensure that we do not import bluetongue into our fragile industry.”

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