Irish livestock producers are demanding tougher measures against British exports and are questioning whether any movements should be permitted across the North-South border until there is fuller understanding of the current foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Leaders of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Association have expressed “solidarity with their fellow farmers across the UK during this time of uncertainty”.

Despite this, they have criticised “the undue haste shown by the EU in letting British livestock and livestock product exports resume so quickly”  after the last outbreak in early August.

“The fact that there is another outbreak six weeks after the last one suggests that, as a minimum, three months would be prudent and possibly much longer until we have a full understanding of what is going on,” said a statement.

The ICSA also believes that there is a need to carefully consider full restrictions on the movement of livestock across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

“This would constitute a pre-emptive regionalisation strategy, which could be very critical in the event of a single outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Northern Ireland,” said a statement.

“It would be a total disaster if this resulted in a complete ban of (all Irish) weanling exports to continental markets.  Decision makers cannot ignore this.”

The foot and mouth threat should not be considered in isolation from other policies that are designed to deliver cheap food, the ICSA added.

“In particular, the gung-ho attitude of the EU towards Brazilian beef imports doesn’t seem so wise now, especially as the previously held belief that the foot and mouth disesase virus could not be sustained beyond three weeks is now looking highly questionable.”