Commodity watch - Animal Health and Welfare Policy Update

Friday, 20 September, 2019

Commodity Watch

By Animal Health and Welfare policy officer, Dr Geoff Thompson

In recent months, the UFU’s animal health and welfare committee has been meeting in earnest to work on a wide range of topics on behalf of our members.

Brexit

With continued uncertainty and a lack of direction from Westminster, representatives from all UFU livestock committees have been meeting with DAERA to discuss the potential impacts of additional sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks and export health certificates (EHCs) on trade between NI and the EU in the eventuality of a no-deal Brexit. Currently around 18,000 EHCs are required by Northern Ireland businesses each year. However, it is estimated that figure could increase to 1.9 million certificates in the eventuality of a no-deal Brexit and DAERA has already stated publicly that not all businesses will be able to comply with all of the requirements of these documents in the eventuality of a no-deal Brexit.

At present, there is currently 129 export health certificates on the DEFRA online form finder (https://www.gov.uk/export-health-certificates) that relate to trade with the EU for animal products including food, germplasm, live animals and livestock. These documents frequently refer to various pieces of legislation which can make interpreting their requirements challenging for those not accustomed to reading legislation. To help businesses prepare, Government has developed notes for guidance to accompany each EHC.

If your business supply chain is involved in exports directly to the EU, the UFU strongly advises you to check the UK government website (https://www.gov.uk/get-ready-brexit-check) and consider the EHC’s and notes for guidance relevant to your products to ensure you can meet the necessary requirements.

If you require further advice, DAERA will be delivering two additional information events for agri-food importers/exporters running from 10am to 4pm on the 24th September in the Tullyglass Hotel in Ballymena and 1st October in the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre (registration for those interested is highly advised by emailing: EUExit@daera-ni.gov.uk).      

Bovine Tuberculosis

The UFU AH&W committee recently met with the TB Eradication Partnership (TBEP) to discuss its advice and recommendations to eradicate TB within Northern Ireland. At present, the committee has scheduled an additional meeting in early October to give further consideration to TBEP’s proposals and to provide recommendations to the UFU’s executive committee.

Bovine Viral Diarrhoea

The UFU have recently reached an agreement with NIMEA to request two amendments to the LMC’s Farm Quality Assurance Scheme to speed up the eradication of BVD in Northern Ireland.

For FQAS to require that BVDP status animals be resolved or removed within 35 days of the initiation positive test result,
For FQAS to require that BVDP status animals are appropriately isolated until they are resolved or removed.

These proposals will be given consideration by the FQAS board which will ultimately make the final decision.

Sheep Scab

The UFU recent attended an industry stakeholder meeting to discuss producers’ appetite to address sheep scab within NI. Stakeholders present saw this as a positive development for the industry and additional meetings have been scheduled to form a working group in order to develop and oversee a national sheep scab control and eradication programme.