11 May 2001
Stock moves to restart in Ireland

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

FARM-to-farm movement of cattle will return to the Republic of Ireland on Monday (14 May) in a further relaxation of foot-and-mouth disease controls.

A similar relaxation of movement controls in Northern Ireland may go ahead on 23 May, even if more cases of the disease are confirmed before then.

The resumption of trade in the Republic will come as a great relief to breeders and store producers who have been unable to sell animals since March.

Irish agriculture minister Joe Walsh said movements would only be possible under tight protocols. “The need for a high level of vigilance remains.”

Vendors will have to minimise the number of potential purchasers coming to a farm, making full use of videos, photos and the internet to conduct business.

Cattle may only be sold if they have been resident on the vendors farm for at least 30 days and should move direct to the purchasers holding.

But Mr Walsh agreed that there would be no need for veterinary inspections of livestock on farms prior to the movement of cattle.

Pat ORorke, president of the Irish Creamery Manufacturers Suppliers Association, welcomed the relaxation of movement restrictions.

“Farm-to-farm movement from Monday will provide many thousands of farm families with the first cash income for over six months,”

Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Brid Rodgers earlier announced that farm-to-farm sales will be allowed in the province from 23 May.

It had been assumed that this further relaxation would be dependent on there being no more foot-and-mouth outbreaks.

A suspected case at a sheep farm at Murlough Bay, near Ballycastle, may be confirmed as Northern Irelands fifth outbreak within the next few days.

But the Ulster Farmers Union claimed Mrs Rodgers has given a commitment that the restrictions will be relaxed even if tests on the farm prove positive.

UFU president Douglas Rowe claimed the assurance was given at a meeting between the minister and farm industry representatives on Thursday (10 May).

Mr Rowe said; “I am pleased that the DARD will allow farm to farm sales later this month, even if another foot-and-mouth case is confirmed.

“Foot-and-mouth precautions must be measured against practical farming needs as well as the risk of spreading the disease.”

Northern Irelands Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said it was unable to comment on Mr Rowes claim.

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