Animal Health and Welfare

UFU, BVA-NI and NIVA comment on NI Assembly veterinary medicine motion

UFU president William Irvine on his County Armagh farm. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), BVA-NI Branch and North of Ireland Veterinary Association (NIVA) says the passing of a motion in the Northern Ireland Assembly acknowledging the ‘deep concern’ around obtaining veterinary medicines after 2025 is a significant moment as MLAs set aside political differences, recognised the scale of the problem and urged the UK and EU to urgently agree a way forward. MLAs concluded that if permanent workable solutions are not brought forward, this would be damaging for animal health and welfare, food production and public health.

Commenting, UFU president William Irvine said, ‘‘MLAs across all parties have recognised the concerns of farmers and pet owners when the current grace period comes to an end. It is critical farmers have access to a full suite of veterinary medicines, with farming and food being key sectors of the local economy, nothing can risk the reputation of our produce throughout the world. We are now almost 18 months into a 36-month process and with elections in both the UK and EU, with very little progress, we are likely to see more time lost in political negotiations between both jurisdictions.”

The UFU and veterinary groups emphasise the importance of this issue not becoming a wider political issue, with access to the EU’s single market set against accessing veterinary medicines from Great Britain. MLAs, farmers and vets agree that any solution must maintain full access to the EU single market whilst not disrupting long established veterinary medicine supply chains.

“Disease knows no boundary and the implications of the current trajectory would be felt throughout the epidemiological unit of the Island of Ireland. Pharmaceutical companies are taking decisions beyond the start of January 2026 based on the full implementation of what was originally agreed under the NI Protocol. This includes the discontinuation of product and reduction in pack size availability which will have bigger implications on small farms,” warned Mr Irvine.

BVA-NI Branch and NIVA president Sharon Verner added, “We welcome the fact that MLAs and the Minister Muir recognise the scale of the issue of maintaining access to the current range of veterinary medicines that are available in NI and are willing to work to see a resolution. The risks of harm to animal and human health and welfare are highly significant. In addition, no one wants to lose the hard-won ground in the field of tackling anti-microbial resistance.

“The veterinary organisations working in partnership with the UFU have put forward realistic solutions that could meet the concerns of NI vets, the farming and equine industries, pet owners, pharmaceutical companies, the UK government and the EU. There is an urgent need to find a permanent solution to this most critical issue.”