Northern Ireland to legislate for BVD testing

Following a 12-week public consultation earlier this year, Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has pledged to introduce compulsory bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) testing in a bid to eradicate the disease in the country.

The announcement comes just weeks after the Scottish government announced new control measures as part of its BVD eradication programme.

Minister O’Neill said: “I intend to introduce legislation to support the farming industry in working together to eradicate BVD. This legislation will put herd keepers in the north on an equal footing to those in the south of Ireland and in Scotland, as well as other EU Member States, where eradication schemes for BVD are already well under way.”

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and BVA Northern Ireland Branch have given their full backing to the BVD eradication programme, calling for compulsory testing, a breeding ban on any known infected animals and for the disease to become notifiable.

Robin Hargreaves, BVA president, said eradicating BVD will increase production efficiency and improve herd health, and has the potential to save the cattle industry millions of pounds.

“Most eradication programmes begin with voluntary measures and progress to compulsory measures to ensure compliance across the whole of the industry,” he explained.

“With Scotland and Northern Ireland now engaged in compulsory BVD eradication schemes, we hope the rest of the UK will look to learn from these examples,” said Mr Hargreaves.

Sandra Dunbar, president of BVA Northern Ireland Branch, said minister O’Neill acknowledged the importance of vets in educating clients about the benefits of BVD eradication.

“Vets in Northern Ireland are ready to offer on-going advice and support to clients on all aspects of disease management and eradication, including testing and biosecurity,” added Ms Dunbar.

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